“It’s a game,” Reilly said, “You have to play by their rules.”
For City Councilman John McLaughlin, the game wasn’t worth the hassle. “What they originally advertised, they’re not delivering,” McLaughlin said. “It’s not free money like they insinuated.”
McLaughlin is now two weeks away from moving out of his rental in Lynbrook and back into his house on West Bay Drive. He used insurance money and an SBA loan to rebuild his home, including the $50,000 he needed to raise it.
McLaughlin said he doesn’t think it is right that the state is now making it more difficult to obtain funding. He said that a NY Rising caseworker told his sister, who is also rebuilding her home, that if she takes the grant money, a five-year lien would be put on her house. If she wanted to sell the house in that time period, she would have to pay back a prorated percentage of the grant, he said.
“The money was given by the government to the state for them to disperse, not for them to put caveats on,” he said.
City Council Vice President Fran Adelson, who is also in the midst of rebuilding her home, echoed McLaughlin’s sentiments, and said the money has been too slow to come. “A lot of people thought this money would help them rebuild,” she said. “And in the end, that may happen, but we’re nine months out and not a dime has been given out.”
Adelson applied to the NY Rising program, and said that she recently received a letter, but it had no specifics about her eligibility or a caseworker assignment. It merely informed her that someone from the program would be contacting her soon.
“It’s becoming very wearing on people,” she said. “There’s not enough information, and the information being put out is confusing. The public deserves some answers from the program.”
Adelson said that she is lobbying the state to get homeowners what they need, but she needs residents’ help to get the message out. She urges them to write and call their state officials to make them aware of their concerns.
“You came forward with this program, you said you were going to help people,” she said. “Where are you?”