VIDEO: State seeks federal aid for Sandy victims left short by insurance

New Yorkers are a step closer to seeing money from the $60 billion Sandy aid package approved by Congress in January.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo submitted plans Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for using the first $1.7 billion allocation expected to go to the state. HUD will release those funds through its Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program once the federal agency approves the state programs. New York City is set to get a separate $1.7 billion allocation of block grant funds and administer its own programs. Ultimately, New York State is expected to receive $30 billion in funds from the federal aid package.

Cuomo’s plan includes several opportunities for homeowners who are still searching for ways to cover the cost of damage from Sandy’s floodwaters, including residents who received less than they’d expected from their insurance companies. The governor proposed $233 million in home repair and reconstruction grants that could be used to cover the difference between insurance and FEMA payments and the actual cost of fixing damage. The plan also includes $259 million for mitigation work in homes at risk of future flooding and $171 million to offer voluntary buy-outs for substantially damaged properties susceptible to future damage.

The state also seeks $124 million for multi-family housing repairs, mitigation work and incentives for risk-reduction projects. It sets aside $415 million to help business reeling from the affects of the storm through grants to cover physical damage, lost inventory and mitigation work. Up to $3 million of that money would be used for consultation and mentoring services for affected businesses. Chunks of the funding would be allocated to specific industries — $20 million to coastal fisheries and $30 million to seasonal tourism businesses.

The rest of the $1.7 billion go to planning and projects aimed at increasing the resiliency of areas that could be threatened by future storms —$20 million for infrastructure-strengthening projects, $25 million in community planning grants to identify vulnerabilities in different neighborhoods, and $30 million to help finance improvements to the state energy systems.

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