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Federal Government Approves Portion Of Supplemental Sandy Aid

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TWC News: Federal Government Approves Portion Of Supplemental Sandy Aid
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At least one component of New York state's plan for victim's of Hurricane Sandy has won approval from the federal government, which includes $1.7 billion for housing and economic development. NY1's Zack Fink has the story.

New York state's plan clears the way for the allocation of federal housing funds for a total of $1.7 billion, which breaks down to about $838 million in housing money and $415 million in economic development funds.

That will include buyouts for some homeowners and reimbursements for repairs that have not already been paid for by FEMA.

"We're not just going to build back, we're going to build back better than before," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. "With the funding we have in the supplemental, with the response that we've had from all levels of government, I think we're poised to do that."

The money is also expected to be used for small business grants to get stores and restaurants open in time for the upcoming summer tourism season.

This initial approval is only a small portion of the $60 billion in supplemental appropriation approved by the federal government earlier this year. New York state's share of that is $35 billion.

Much of that remaining money will go towards long term projects like hardening critical infrastructure and reimbursing local governments for overtime incurred during the storm.

"This president, and this administration, and personally, we will be on the ground, in New York and across the region for as long as it takes to make sure that this terrible damage, the second-worst storm in the history of our nation, that the damage is not only repaired, but that we build back better, smarter and stronger," Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan

The money will be distributed in the form of Community Development Block Grants, which are flexibly spent and can fill in gaps. For example, CDBG funds can be used for mold mitigation, something not permitted with FEMA dollars.

"A homeowner who needs help and FEMA wouldn't work, and their own insurance wouldn't work and their flood insurance wouldn't work, would be helped by CDBG in a flexible way," Sen. Charles Schumer said.

This money is not only for New York City. A total of 84 communities statewide are eligible to apply. It includes not just those affected by Sandy, but also Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene, storms which preceded Sandy.

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