Tag Archives: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Bill de Blasio to be sworn in as mayor by former President Bill Clinton


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

FILE PHOTO

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will be sworn in as the 109th mayor of New York City by former President Bill Clinton, de Blasio announced Saturday.

“I was honored to serve in President Clinton’s Administration and on Secretary Clinton’s campaign for U.S. Senate, and I am honored again that they will both join our celebration for all of New York City,” de Blasio said. “Wednesday’s ceremony will be an event for every New Yorker from all five boroughs, and Chirlane and I couldn’t be more excited to have President Clinton and Secretary Clinton stand with us.”

De Blasio previously served as Regional Director at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton administration as well as campaign manager for Secretary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign.

On Jan. 1, Clinton will swear in the incoming mayor on the steps of City Hall with a bible once owned by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The bible is on loan from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum.

Lissette Ortiz, a senior at Medgar Evers College, will introduce Clinton. Ortiz moved to the United States when she was 15 from the Dominican Republic. She now lives in the Bronx and plans to pursue a career in public administration.


RECOMMENDED STORIES

Bill calls for storm fund tracking, accountability


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Donovan Richards

One Queens pol wants to track storm recovery funds, promote accountability and avoid any potential of fraud for people still recovering from Sandy.

A new bill introduced by Councilmember Donovan Richards will monitor where the billions of federal, state and local dollars for superstorm recovery are being spent.

“The tracking bill will ensure contractors who accept public money for Sandy work, disclose the wages they are paying and where they hire workers,” Richards said.

The bill received 36 co-sponsors in the City Council, giving it a veto-proof majority.

All contractors will be required to disclose everything from the wages they pay workers to the area from which they hire these workers. An online database will track where and how the funds are spent.

Federal recovery grants recently amounted to $1.34 billion, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently tacked on an additional $104 million to repair low-income housing, according to various media reports.

“It has been over a year since Sandy, and many families are still looking for support to rebuild their communities,” said Councilmember Leroy Comrie, who supported the bill. “The funds the city is allocating need to be spent wisely, and creating an online database will ensure those who are most in need will receive it.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Woman claims College Point condo discriminated against her disability


| mchan@queenscourier.com

A paralyzed Queens woman is suing a national real estate development company, claiming a newly built College Point condominium discriminated against her disability, a lawsuit said.

The suit filed August 8 claims AVR Realty violated fair housing and human rights laws when it rejected Suzanne Vilchez’s request to make her newly purchased condo unit more handicapped accessible.

Vilchez is restricted to a wheelchair and has limited movement in her hands, fingers and arms, the lawsuit said.

She and her mother, Maria Coello, put a deposit down in August 2009 for a two-bedroom unit at Powell Cove Estates, a new 220-unit waterfront condo community, according to legal documents.

They said they were granted requests then by a sales representative for a levered door, an accessible patio, a lowered bathroom light switch and a roll-in shower, among other accommodations.

But the pair, who had sold their family home, was told a year later the doors could not be changed and the patio could not be modified to be made more accessible, the lawsuit said.

The federal Fair Housing Amendments Act mandates new multi-family residential buildings, with at least four units, be designed and built to have minimum accessibility features for the disabled.

It also requires building owners to make “reasonable exceptions” to policies and operations in accommodating people with disabilities and to allow tenants to pay for and make modifications.

AVR Realty declined to comment.

A discrimination complaint Vilchez filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is still “under active investigation,” the department said.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Cuomo files proposal for spending Sandy aid


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

BY ANTHONY O’REILLY

Governor Andrew Cuomo became the first state leader to file a proposal for federal aid to houses and businesses that were damaged during Sandy.

Cuomo’s state action plan, available for public review at nyshcr.org/Publications, outlines how the state intends to spend its first $1.7 billion dollars allocated by the Sandy aid bill signed into law by President Obama in January.

“Superstorm Sandy was the worst storm to hit New York State and our region in recorded history, and its impact devastated homes and businesses across Long Island and the metro area,” said Cuomo. “This plan was put together with the input of homeowners and small businesses in affected communities, and it will serve as a blueprint to guide our housing and private sector recovery.”

The proposal now awaits approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, the agency designated with supervising the federal government’s response to Sandy.

“We have worked closely with the State of New York to identify areas of unmet need and ensure that this first round of CDBG-DR funding helps families and small businesses get back on their feet,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said. “I look forward to building on the partnership we have created with Governor Cuomo to help communities in New York rebuild in a way that makes them stronger, more economically competitive and better able to withstand the next storm.”

Under the proposal, $663 million will be allocated for relief to single family housing, $124 million to multi-family housing and $415 million to bringing back businesses affected by the storm.

If the proposal is approved, the state would also create several programs to help distribute funds. Twenty million dollars would be used in an infrastructure bank, where eligible infrastructure projects can apply for assistance. A community restructuring program would receive $25 million, benefitting communities that have been severely damaged following the storm. Energy related projects would receive $30 million, to help develop critical backup power systems.

“We have been working hand in hand with our federal partners since the day Sandy struck and every day since,” Cuomo said. “The state will provide whatever assistance and collaboration necessary to see that HUD approves these plans as quickly as possible so we can get this aid to the New Yorkers who need and deserve it.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Schumer pushes for co-op, condo Sandy relief


| mchan@queenscourier.com

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.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES