Tuesday, February 5, 2013
State plan to buy up storm-ravaged homes
From the NY Times:
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is proposing to spend as much as $400 million to purchase homes wrecked by Hurricane Sandy, have them demolished and then preserve the flood-prone land permanently, as undeveloped coastline.
The foundation is all that remains of 45 Kissam Avenue on Staten Island. Many homes were totaled during the storm and work crews have been demolishing what is left.
The purchase program, which still requires approval from federal officials, would be among the most ambitious ever undertaken, not only in scale but also in how Mr. Cuomo would be using the money to begin reshaping coastal land use. Residents living in flood plains with homes that were significantly damaged would be offered the pre-storm value of their houses to relocate; those in even more vulnerable areas would be offered a bonus to sell; and in a small number of highly flood-prone areas, the state would double the bonus if an entire block of homeowners agreed to leave.
The land would never be built on again. Some properties could be turned into dunes, wetlands or other natural buffers that would help protect coastal communities from ferocious storms; other parcels could be combined and turned into public parkland.’
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has financed the purchase of homes in disaster-stricken areas for two decades. Hundreds of property owners in upstate New York decided to pursue buyouts after Tropical Storms Irene and Lee, though no sales have been finalized, according to state emergency management officials.
Mr. Cuomo is proposing a far broader program for homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy, using money from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency Mr. Cuomo once headed.
The buyout program requires approval from the federal housing agency. The governor’s office said federal officials seemed receptive to their proposal, and that Mr. Cuomo hoped the program would be approved and that he could announce details in the next two weeks.
A spokesman for the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, which President Obama created in December, said Sunday that it is too soon to say whether the state will be allowed to proceed.