New York’s senior senator has joined the ranks of leaders pushing for relief to storm-damaged co-ops and condos.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last Wednesday asking the agency to establish Sandy relief program guidelines for co-ops and condos.
Co-op and condo owners currently cannot receive Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for Sandy-inflicted damages because they are categorized as “business associations,” according to elected federal officials. The title makes them eligible for federal loans but not grants.
“After Sandy, FEMA was able to help many communities. However, due to inflexible bureaucratic rules, co-op and condo homeowners were left in the wake,” Schumer said.
The Stafford Act, which governs how FEMA responds to major disasters, does not include the word “co-op” in the law, according to Congressmember Steve Israel. But there is no statute that purposefully bans co-op owners from being eligible for grants, a privilege given to homeowners.
Schumer called on HUD officials to use Community Development Block Grants Disaster Recovery funds to help co-op and condo owners repair and rebuild.
HUD allocated $5.4 billion to the recovery program early last week. New Yorkers are eligible to receive about $3.5 billion of that total.
Some Queens co-ops suffered $1 million in damages, including Cryder Point Co-ops, a waterfront community which has to repair its shambled pier.
More than half of the total buildings in Glen Oaks Village endured “moderate to severe shingle loss,” according to Bob Friedrich, the co-op’s president. The co-op will have to shell out $250,000 for infrastructural damage.
And nearly 3,000 Mitchell-Lama co-ops in the Rockaways are forced to shoulder repair costs, said Dolores Orr, co-op owner and president of the Rockaway Beach Civic Association.
“It is astonishing to me that residential co-op buildings are not being afforded any financial assistance in the recovery from Sandy,” she said. “We are homeowners just like those who live in … family houses.”