Dear Governor Cuomo,
I write to you on behalf of hundreds of homeowners in my district as well as thousands of homeowners along Long Island’s South Shore regarding the upcoming March 1, 2017 deadline for submission of Scope of Work Itemization Requests for residents who are participating in the New York Rising home elevation program.
As you are aware, more than four years after the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, so many of our fellow New Yorkers are still struggling to rebuild and only now are in the process of home elevation. While I appreciate the daunting task that the Governors’ Office of Storm Recovery and New York Rising has undertaken in assisting affected residents along this journey, the imposition of the upcoming March 1st deadline threatens to derail this process at a time when participants are most vulnerable.
Scope of Work Change Requests and its associated Scope of Work Itemization Form 6100, are required for homeowners who, due to changes in design, corrections in original plan defects or due to unforeseen conditions discovered in the course of demolition or elevation, must alter the original Estimated Cost of Repair and grant funding request approved by the program.
The imposition of a March 1st deadline for the submission of these requests is both unrealistic and unfair. As many homeowners are only now beginning the process of elevating their homes, the discovery of conditions which would give rise to a Scope of Work Change will be taking place over the next several months. By cutting off the opportunity to seek additional funds to accommodate changes in the scope of work, we are putting homeowners in the impossible position of paying out of pocket for changes which can equate to tens of thousands of dollars, or having a contractor walk off of the job while their home is literally up in the air.
Take, for example, a homeowner whose home is in the process of being raised. When the helical pilings are being set, his contractor discovers that even though the original plans call for the pilings to be set at a depth of twenty feet, the ground is too soft at that depth to support the house. As a result, the pilings will have to be set at a depth of forty feet. This change in the scope of work, will add $20-30,000 to the cost of the project.
After March 1, 2017, that homeowner will be barred from seeking a change in the approved grant to accommodate the increased cost. That leaves the homeowner, who in many instances has already exhausted any savings he had trying to get back into his house in the aftermath of the storm, to somehow come up with the money on his own or face a contractor walking off of the job with their house 20’ in the air on cribbing.
While I certainly understand the desire of your office to reach a finite end to this program, doing so at the expense of the program’s primary mission to help New Yorker’s recover and become storm resilient in the aftermath of an unprecedented natural disaster, is as unacceptable to you as it is to me. After having struggled financially while wading through a seemingly endless swamp of forms, red tape and permits to get to the water spiket with glass in hand, your Office of Storm Recovery and New York Rising are about to turn off the tap.
The more appropriate way to address this issue is to either extend the deadline to a more realistic time frame or, in the alternative, to eliminate a catch-all date-based deadline in favor of a deadline measured from the start of construction. This would provide an orderly way to measure and encourage progress while ensuring that the homeowners whom the program is designed to assist, are not left behind through no fault of their own.
Given the importance and urgency of the approaching deadline, I would respectfully request that this issue be given your immediate attention. Please feel free to contact me at any time should you wish to discuss this matter.
Very truly yours,
Steven D. Rhoads Nassau County Legislator, 19th District