New York earmarks $171M for Sandy home buyouts

President Obama surveying damage on Staten Island shortly after the storm .
President Obama surveying damage on Staten Island shortly after the storm .

New York State officials are making $171 million available for buyouts for homeowners who wish to make a post-Sandy exodus, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The money, included in a $3 billion aid package announced Tuesday, will help homeowners in low-lying areas that could be flooded again. No homeowner, though, will be forced to take a buyout, according to the state. New construction eventually will be banned in extremely high-risk areas. The plan “will serve as a blueprint to guide our housing and private sector recovery,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. 

In addition, the state will provide $494 million for single-family owners who can’t rebuild or repair their homes adequately with current Federal Emergency Management Agency funds or insurance money. Homeowners have been battling with insurance companies to receive their compensation claims, and state officials have questioned mortgage providers on Sandy-related payments.

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Another $415 million will go towards helping small businesses to get back on their feet, the state said.

The state will require federal approval of the buyout plan, and it is yet unclear how many homeowners will avail of the program. Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro said 267 homeowners have expressed interest, including a wide section of Oakwood Beach.

“They tell me, we’ve had enough of this, it happened once, it happened twice, it happened three times,” Molinaro told the Journal. “I have 18,000 residents who live in the flood plain.” [WSJ]Hiten Samtani