A 14-day housing extension for Hurricane Sandy victims who cannot return to their homes has been issued. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), at the request of the State of New York and Governor Cuomo,, has approved the extension to the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program.
This action will allow those staying in participating hotels or motels the extension covered by FEMA through February 9, 2012. FEMA will be calling those staying in hotels or motels to notify them of the extension and to inform them that they must either check out and find other housing or return home by February 10, or pay for continued stays on their own. TSA is intended as a short term housing program for those in emergency situations while they work on longer term housing plans.
An estimated 1,000 people on Long Island are still unable to return to their homes, with several hundred additional families from Breezy Point still homeless. In addition to those families staying in cramped hotel rooms, many more are staying with relatives or friends, using spare bedrooms, basements, and dens.
In addition a 30 day extension for the Individual Assistance (IA) program has been approved.. This will enable eligible individuals the ability to receive federal assistance for repairing their damaged properties.
The IA extension will provide an additional 30 days for individuals and businesses to apply to FEMA for assistance for home repairs and other needs and to the Small Business Administration for loans. However, the process can be complicated and time consuming. Some people have found that they can't proceed with applying for FEMA assistance without a specific rejection letter from their homeowner's insurance and some continue to wait for that. In other cases, homeowner's have been told they must first appeal their homeowner's insurance payment or rejection.
In one case in Nassau County, a homeowner received a payout of just $500 from their insurance carrier for a destroyed brick patio, blown out by a huge tree that was uprooted in the storm. Yet estimates to do the work range from $7500-$10,000. FEMA told the homeowners they were only eligible to apply for a loan, but the homeowners already have a lot of debt and a low credit rating, so they may now be ineligible even for that. In another complicated Lindenhurst case, a flooded home's owners received $40,000 to completely tear down their home and re-build. "FEMA and the Red Cross kept bringing water, food, blankets, and cleaning supplies but where do we get $100,000 to add to the $40,000 we need to re-build?" asked the homeowner.
“We remain committed to assisting all victims of Hurricane Sandy, ensuring that they have the shelter they need, especially in this cold weather, Governor Cuomo said. “The Transitional Sheltering Assistance program will continue to provide shelter to those New Yorkers who do not have homes to return and help others with critically needed funding to rebuild.
To be eligible for FEMA Programs, survivors must first apply for federal assistance through FEMA by:
Registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov;
Registering via smartphone or tablet by using the FEMA app or going to m.fema.gov; or
Registering by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 800-462-7585). For 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.