The First 1.8 Billion
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mayor Bloomberg announced that New York City plans to spend its initial allocation of $1.77 billion of federal funds in three categories: housing recovery, business recovery and infrastructure resiliency.
“These funds will help New Yorkers who were the hardest hit by Sandy get back on their feet and help communities build back stronger and smarter,” Bloomberg said. Most of the funds will not be available until April or May to which Bloomberg said “In government speak, this is instantaneous. The government doesn’t back up a truck and dump bills on the ground.”
The federal assistance is being carved up as follows: Housing Recovery: $720 million; Business Recovery: $185 million; Infrastructure Resiliency $140 million.
Housing monies include $350 million to establish a grant program for as many as 9,300 single-family homeowners whose residences sustained damage as a result of Sandy and need additional funding to restore their homes and remediate mold. Money is also set aside to “implement resiliency measures.” The announcement did not specify if such measures would cover raising houses three or four feet as the recent guidelines released by FEMA suggested.
Another portion of the housing money will be directed to Multi-Family Rehabilitation. $250 million is set aside for buildings that still require significant resources to permanently address damage and resume sustainable operations. The City’s program will provide grants and low-interest loans, depending on need and scope. Public Housing will receive $120 million to address initial resilience measures for public housing developments, such as permanent emergency generators at key buildings to provide backup power to critical building systems.
The second largest portion of money will be directed to Business Recovery. Bloomberg said $100 million will be available for small and mid-size companies to get grants of $100,000 while large companies in some areas will get grants of 1 million dollars as long as they commit to reinvest in “their New York presence” An additional $80 million will provide loans and grants and include a business plan competition which will solicit ideas for additional loan and grant programs which would then be funded on a pilot basis. Lastly, $5 million is set aside for “Race-to-the- Top” style competitions to find innovative and cost-effective ideas for resiliency products and technologies that can be replicated citywide.
Infrastructure Resiliency – $140 Million. $100 million is reserved to jump-start economic activity in the city’s five Business Development Zones (of which one is Rockaway and Howard Beach). Some of this money would be used for competitions geared towards discovering investment ideas to spur long-term economic growth. $40 million will be allocated towards competitions that address innovation and resiliency among utilities including power and telecommunication networks.
Seth Pinsky, New York City Economic Development Corporation President and advisor to Bloomberg said, “Thanks to our partners in the federal government, we will now have even more resources to help those in the hardest-hit areas get back on their feet, and to help those in vulnerable areas citywide to repair and strengthen our buildings and infrastructure.”
Bloomberg and his administration are pleased with the federal response in freeing up this money as they are in a bit of hurry as the upcoming budget in June will be the mayor’s last.