Monday, January 14, 2013

Were co-ops left out in the cold by FEMA?

From the Times Ledger:

Co-op owners in northeast Queens said they felt discriminated against when it came to seeking federal aid in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

In Glen Oaks Village, more than half of the 134 buildings suffered roof damage to rack up a bill of about $25,000, according to co-op President Bob Friedrich. But after approaching the Federal Emergency Management Agency for grant money, Friedrich said a misinterpretation of fine print left his neighborhood ineligible for aid.

He said FEMA classified Glen Oaks Village as a business association, which qualifies for loans but not federal grant money, and in turn discriminates against the 3,000 families who inhabit the neighborhood.

“This is really an issue of fairness and equity,” Friedrich said. “Our residents are paying for FEMA like everybody else. Yet we are not eligible for the aid.”

Elected officials who represent the region stood beside northeast Queens co-op and condo owners at a Tuesday press conference at Glen Oaks Village to demand revisions on how FEMA classifies homeowners.

According to FEMA spokesman Ed Conley, the agency doles out grant money to individual residents living in co-ops depending mostly on agreements between homeowners and the community associations that oversee them.

“In any county with a major disaster declaration, individual homeowners or renters with damages to their individual units from Superstorm Sandy are eligible to apply for FEMA assistance, and we urge them to do so,” he said. “This includes residents living in co-ops. However, FEMA’s Individual Assistance program is authorized to grant assistance funds only to individuals or households, not business associations such as co-op boards.”

In addition, Conley said grant money only goes toward emergency repairs to make homes livable, which does not include roof shingle damage similar to that reported in Glen Oaks.

“We are looking at what we need to do to get you in a livable housing situation,” Conley said. “Getting people into a livable space would mean repairs to the kitchen, a bathroom or a bedroom — not to replace everything that was lost or destroyed.”

Meanwhile, any property owned by the co-op association, such as a roof classified as common property, must go through to the United States Small Business Association to receive repair loans, according to SBA Public Affairs Specialist Michael Peacock.


Anonymous said...

$25,000 divided by 134 buildings equals $186.57 per building. They should count their blessings. (I wonder how much of the damage was caused by deferred maintenance?)

Anonymous said...

remove the "political pork" out of the Sandy bill. and help those in the real flood areas.

the scammers will try anything to get their hands on this taxpayer $$$$$$$$.

Anonymous said...

You mean like the guys in Alaska?

Anonymous said...

The politically-connected wrote the Sandy bill and the idea that they are altruistically going to fund any repairs or rebuilding for the non-politically connected is a fantasy.

Even the politically connected non-profits want to pay salaries, replace equipment, etc. before they spend it on Sandy victims.

Anonymous said...

One problem is that the rest of the country has condos (where each apartment or townhouse dweller has title to their individual home) instead of co-ops (where the people living there have shares of a cooperative corporation, and what's called a proprietary lease that gives them the right to live in a particular unit). The law probably did not take New York's particular situation into account.

Anonymous said...

I live in a condo. We couldn't have received money from FEMA as a condo building. Only as an individual owner
if damage or if you needed funds for displacement.
Any damages to the building were not cover by FEMA, you either have to pay for it or hope your insurance covers it.
I believe this is the right way to approach these claims .

Anonymous said...

What are Weprin, Avella and the other guy looking at? They don't seem to be looking at Friedrich.