Bloomberg on (developing) plans for the Hurricane Sandy recovery money

Gerritsen Beach after the storm. (Adrian Kinloch via Flickr)
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The Bloomberg administration has come up with a plan, or at least the outlines of one, for how to spend the initial $1.77 billion in federal Hurricane Sandy relief the city has received so far.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg sketched out a proposal, which still requires federal approval and a public comment period, this morning at a press conference in City Hall. Much of the initial allocation, or $720 million worth, will go towards repairing and rebuilding homes and rebuilding infrastructure. 

As for the rest?

"There's roughly three quarters of a billion dollars that we are still developing plans for," said Bloomberg.

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As far as that $1 billion is concerned that the administration has figured out how to use, about two thirds of it will go toward housing, with $350 million funding grants for up to 9,300 single family homeowners.

"Combined, these grants won't reach all the homeowners who sustained Sandy damage," said the mayor. "In fact, we estimate it will only cover about half of them. But it is a great beginning. ... And we hope with subsequent rounds of funding from the federal government that we will be able to finish the job."

Another $250 million will go toward about 1,600 apartment buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

And the final $120 million will be used to repair and rebuild public housing against storms.

"For example, we'll install permanent back-up generators at some 100 [New York City Housing Authority] buildings," said Bloomberg.

The second pot of money, $185 million worth, will be issued to help businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy recover and reinvest in their communities.

The storm flooded more than 13,000 businesses, and many, many more lost power.

"You can't have a neighborhood, you can't live, if there aren't local stores to give you jobs and to let you buy services and goods," said the mayor.

The third pot of money is going toward what the administration describes as "infrastructure resiliency."

What that means is, apparently by design, substantially vague.

The funds will be allocated following Race to the Top-style competitions for growth-generating investment ideas and utility-hardening proposals.

Applications for these programs will be accepted in late April or early May, with the city intending to disburse the money as soon as possible thereafter.

The application guidelines will come out some time between now and then.

"In government-speak, this is instantaneous," said Bloomberg. "The government doesn't back up a truck and dump bills on the ground."

All of these programs require federal approval, which Bloomberg is confident he will get.