2013-09-27 / Top Stories

Council Fights Flood Costs; Wants Help For Condos And Co-ops

The New York City Council passed two resolutions aimed at helping homeowners still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Resolution 1808, sponsored by Councilmember Eric Ulrich called upon the United States Congress to amend the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage for properties in flood-prone areas that sustain damage from flooding. The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (“the Act”) significantly alters the way flood insurance premium rates under this program are calculated. The Act will eventually eliminate all subsidized flood insurance rates for properties in program participating areas. This change will have enormous implications for property owners in a couple of years once new flood insurance rate maps are adopted by the City; which means that flood insurance rates can increase by two to ten times their current cost over a five-year period.

This resolution calls upon the United States Congress to amend the Act to minimize the burden of flood insurance premium rate increases on homeowners by: (1) reducing the 20 percent flood insurance premium rate increase per year the Act imposes; (2) allowing properties that have been newly mapped into the floodplain to participate in the phase-in of actuarial rates; (3) allowing for current subsidized rates to continue upon the sale of a property; (4) allowing for higher deductibles in order to reduce premiums; and (5) reducing premiums for the actual risk-mitigating alterations owners make to their buildings.

Also, Resolution 1927, sponsored by Council Member Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and co-sponsored by Council Member Ulrich calls upon the United States Congress to enact and the President to sign H.2887/S.1480, a bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to provide assistance for condominiums and housing cooperatives damaged by a major disaster, and for other purposes.

Among the thousands of structures affected by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 were cooperatives and condominiums. These structures suffered extensive damage to individual units and common areas such as utility rooms, lobbies, and roofs. Under current Federal Emergency Management Agency policy, cooperatives and condominiums are considered business entities and are therefore largely ineligible for federal assistance to make much-needed repairs following major disasters like Sandy.

The bill would amend the Stafford Act to provide cooperative and condominium associations with the same federal disaster assistance available to single-family homeowners, namely grants.

Ulrich said “The City Council is sending a message to members of Congress urging them to get their act together and provide relief for Sandy homeowners and their families. Nearly one year after the storm, many people living on New York’s waterfront are still concerned about the possibility of sky rocketing insurance premiums. We need to do everything we can to alleviate the financial burden that will be imposed by these federal mandates before it’s too late.”

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