Mustard Seed‎ > ‎Hurricane Sandy‎ > ‎

NYS Grant


St. Clare's Relief Team Contact Information
Direct Telephone: (718) 554-8104            Email: sandy@stclaresi.com

Clarification on the NYS grant 


First and perhaps most important, the New York State Disaster grant is automatic and requires no application and therefore there is no need to come to St Clare's to fill out an application for purposes of obtaining this grant. The New York State grant will be triggered when your FEMA grant award reaches the maximum award amount of $31,900, meaning that if FEMA does not give you the maximum the state will not award you "up to an additional $10,000." This is because the State grant is meant as a supplement for cases where the FEMA money is not enough, effectively extending the FEMA cap by $10,000 to $49,000. 

 

If you have not gotten the full FEMA award and FEMA together with your insurance settlement is not nearly enough to cover the necessary storm repairs, you should contact FEMA and tell them that you want to appeal their grant award decision. They have a process in place for this and many people will make the appeal, so you should too if you need more than you are getting. You should obtain two estimates from licensed contractors to back the claim. FEMA should tell you what other documentation they need. Include the amounts of any insurance coverage that you didn’t know when first applied, and pressure your insurance companies to provide those in a timely fashion if they have not yet done so.

 

Please reach out to me if I can be of further assistance or do anything to provide further clarity. We are still available at St Clare's to assist those displaced by the storm and in need of housing, and someone from the State Office of Financial Services is also there to help with insurance matters and/or complaints.

 

ONLINE HOUSING ASSISTANCE


New York State Homes and Community Renewal is a housing agency, and we can help to fulfill your long term housing needs. You can apply at the St Clare's DRC in person. Housing can also be requested online directly at https://www1.dhcr.state.ny.us/DisasterRecovery/default.aspx following the directions below. 


Instructions for the disaster housing assistance form


In the field under “step 8 –other information” enter items from the list and any information about your current living situation or level of distress that you want to include. For purposes of clarity, it is best to omit information about damage to or loss of personal property of items other than the actual home itself because our agency is a housing agency as such and cannot assist with issues other than those relating to housing itself. Insurance issues relating non-housing property can addressed by the insurance person at the DRC. The list items to use to apply for immediate housing are “Apartment rental” and “section 8” for those who fit the income guidelines for rent vouchers –the guidelines with income thresholds are attached to this email as a PDF file. I believe the income thresholds have been increased over those for ‘regular’ section 8.

 

Here’s my understanding of the other step 8 options:

 

Home Ownership – down payment assistance for purchasing a home.

 

Weatherization – when your home restoration is complete or nearly complete, they will blow cellulose insulation in your walls and attic and air-seal to keep out cold air and lower your heating bills. Weatherization may also provide windows and heating system replacement, on a cost driven (savings to investment ration) basis, and could possibly be worked into your restoration plans if the government provides additional resources (money) for disaster victims weatherization.

 

Mobile home rental and ownership – this is more of an upstate resource, where you would live a trailer park, but there are a couple of trailer parks on SI. This is not related to the temporary trailers provided by FEMA.  

  

Use my name (William Gregg) for “name of agency representative completing this form” and Richmond County for “Disaster Recovery Center Location.”

 

Please feel free to forward this email to friends and neighbors with immediate housing needs, or send them to St Clare's if they need help with the form or counseling on their housing options. You can share my email address as well, since we are no longer pressured to process extremely large volumes of apps at the center.

Here is some clarifying information useful to disaster survivors. This is based on what we know from our Agency's prior experience in the upstate Disaster Recovery Centers after the tornadoes last year and what we've been hearing at the St Clare's DRC over the past week.

FEMA
1. For all disaster survivors, it is important to apply for the SBA loans. Whether or not you actually take the loan, we know that FEMA has cited not applying for the SBA loan as a basis for refusing to process your entitlement grant (the "up to $31,900" that you are counting on to help rebuild if you're a homeowner). This occurred during last year's upstate tornado disaster and is consistent with what we're hearing from Staten Island homeowners over the last several days.

2. We had a couple come in telling us of a person representing themselves as a FEMA adjuster and seemingly interested in paying to replace personal property such as furniture and refrigerators. The FEMA standard as we know it is to provide for "safe and sanitary" living conditions only. I would cautiously label this a 'fishy incident' because SBA loans are the only government resource we know of for renters or homeowners seeking assistance for replacement of personal property. In any event, please don't hesitate to contact FEMA to verify the identity of anyone claiming to represent them.

New boilers
Heating systems over the past several years have made great strides in terms of efficiency, specifically units that can lower your fuel consumption dramatically, called "condensing" boilers and furnaces. As long as you are making a replacement, you may as well take advantage of the new technology. These are more expensive than the older atmospheric boilers and furnaces but will quickly pay back the difference in fuel bill savings.  
Past experience matches what we're hearing now regarding some unscrupulous heating contractors, who may tell you that FEMA specifies specific heating system types that they are willing to pay for. This is false. FEMA specifies only that their monies must be used for structural repairs including heating and electrical systems and once they cut you a check, you can use part of it purchase any type of heating system you want. The reason some contractors want to sell you on this is so that they can profit handsomely on outdated stock they can't normally give away. 

Public adjusters may charge a fee of not more than 12.5% of insurance claims they facilitate
The State Representative from the New York State Office of Financial Services verified that this is within their right.

Insurance company delay tactic
Insurance is a regulated business, and they have specific deadlines for producing claims before they are legally considered unresponsive. But they know a way of skirting the time limits, which is to wait until the last day of that period and call or write you requesting additional documentation, over and over until they cannot find of anything else to ask for. In our tornado experience they have been able to parlay this into as much as a seventeen month delay in producing claims.