But those who don’t feel the grant is comprehensive enough are left with few options. Debbie Gialanze, a displaced Long Beach resident, said that her house was deemed “unsafe” by a NY Rising inspector. It needs to be demolished, and she and her husband are planning on putting a modular home in its place.
But when she opened her NY Rising grant letter, Gialanze said, she was shocked. Her estimated cost of reconstruction was $156,000, but after her insurance payout was deducted, her award was reduced to $80,000, much less than she needs to demolish and rebuild, she said. If she were to take on an SBA loan to make up the difference, however, the total of her loan would be deducted from her NY Rising award, and she would be back at square one.
“So either I take the money from SBA and try to rebuild a home on that, or take the $80,000 and try to rebuild a home on that,” Gialanze said. “This whole thing is a farce, and it is disgusting what our government is doing to us.”
Taking the next step
For many, the award letter will signal the start of a rebuilding process that has been stalled for months. Now homeowners must select architects and contractors — and fill out more paperwork to accept the grant.
“This will be an ongoing process, and we will be working with homeowners over the next several months,” Diamond said. “We’re anxious to get started and have them begin work, but it will take some time for people to engage the right people to do the work and move on from there.”
One fear expressed by residents was that NY Rising would make homeowners choose from its list of contractors, and that the work would not go to a homeowner’s preferred contractor or local businesses. Diamond said that that is a misconception. The program does have requirements for contractors doing work with grant money, but they are very basic, he said. They must be insured, bonded, have at least three years’ experience and be licensed in the community in which they will be working. Contractor interested in working on NY Rising projects may easily register with the program.