The slow pace of aid distribution to Hurricane Sandy victims is largely due to a bureaucratic tangle meant to weed out fraud, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said yesterday.
“We guard taxpayers’ money, and we want to make sure it’s going to people that need it and is in compliance with the regulations,” Cuomo said during an event at Bethpage High School on Long Island, where he signed an unrelated bill Wednesday.
State officials, the governor said, are primarily working to avoid misspending funds — a problem that undermined aid efforts after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and surrounding areas in 2005. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has also blamed anti-fraud measures for delays in distributing Sandy aid.
“I don’t wanna’ be here a few months from now at a press conference and somebody asks a question, ‘Why did that person get federal money when they weren’t entitled to it?’ Or, there was a situation of fraud and people got money and they actually didn’t rebuild the home,” Cuomo said.
New York has disbursed financial aid to about 6,500 of 15,000 eligible homeowners so far, most of whom reside on Long Island. That’s a better performance than in New York City or New Jersey, but some Long Island homeowners told the Wall Street Journal that they too are struggling with bureaucratic red tape. [WSJ] — Julie Strickland