Federal aid for Sandy victims arriving at snail’s pace

Aerial view of Sandy-damaged Breezy Point
Aerial view of Sandy-damaged Breezy Point

Of the $648 million promised to New York City by the federal government for Hurricane Sandy-related repairs and prevention, only one person has actually received aid thus far.

The $60 billion aid package approved by Congress last December, meant to provide housing assistance, reimburse local governments for costs incurred in response to the storm and help beef up the region’s protections against future storms. But so far, the only aid disbursed has been for one home on Staten Island, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Part of the reason for the delay is that the legislation authorizing the aid was not passed until January, the paper said.

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“Do I have any faith in [the federal aid]? Not really,” Nicole Chati, a resident of New Dorp told the Journal. “I’ve gone through so much of, ‘We’re going to help, we’re going to help,’ and it’s just not there.”

Officials told the Journal the tedious pace is the result of new, time-consuming requirements, such as environmental reviews and checks to be sure construction work isn’t happening above Native American burial grounds.

“There’s no question that while we’ve made progress, there are still many things that we can do, both administratively and also, legislatively, to speed up the process of getting help to families,” Shaun Donovan, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, told the Journal. [WSJ]Julie Strickland