IN THE NEWS - Staten Island Advance: Staten Island's Sen. Lanza outlines program for federal buyouts, repairs

Andrew J Lanza

March 18, 2013

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- New York state has plans to allocate $400 million in federal funds for buyouts and $700 million in federal funds to Staten Islanders looking to repair or rebuild their homes after Hurricane Sandy -- so says state Sen. Andrew Lanza.

Lanza (R-Staten Island) delivered the message at a community meeting Friday night at Ariana's Catering Hall in New Dorp Beach.

Lanza, who chairs the Bipartisan Task Force on Hurricane Sandy Recovery, said he is "99 percent certain" about the funding, which, he noted, still needs HUD approval.

The Republican said he has worked closely with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other elected officials to put a plan in place that will most benefit Islanders. He noted that many details remain to be worked out.

Lanza said the state will establish a relief center here to assist residents with buyout applications and/or other assistance.

He said the voluntary buyout program includes designated areas where homeowners are scheduled to get the pre-storm fair market value. Here the state would provide an incentive of an extra 10 percent, on top of the federal money, and 5 percent if residents stay on the Island.

Outside those designated areas, a home has to be destroyed "more than 50 percent" in order for homeowners to opt into the buyout program.

The provisions didn't please everyone in attendance Friday night. Some residents deemed the $400 million insufficient; Lanza noted that was just a small portion of the planned billions expected to be available eventually.

A woman wondered whether folks who already had gotten insurance payouts would have to reimburse their insurers if they got additional funding; Lanza said officials are working to make sure those offsets not are part of the plans.

One angry resident shouted he was upset because banks were not forgiving monthly payments on mortgages, "on houses we can't even live in!"

By Kiawana Rich/Staten Island Advance on March 16, 2013