On Wednesday, June 21st, Legislator Steve Rhoads joined Town of Hempstead Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and dozens of south-shore residents in calling on New York State to abolish the New York Rising deadlines for homeowners participating in their Optional Elevation Program.
The program, designed to allow residents in flood-prone areas to raise their homes, has set an arbitrary deadline of September 1, 2017 for participating homes to be off of their foundations. The establishment of the short deadline has architects scrambling to complete plans and building departments to be innundated with permit applications requiring a review of those plans before a contractor can schedule an elevation. Complicating the matter is the fact that New York Rising has been slow in delivering the grant money to program participants and the fact that there are not enough qualified contractors to lift the number of homes still sitting on their foundations by the September 1st deadline.
In response to calls from Legislator Rhoads and other elected officials, New York Rising and the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery announced in a letter sent on June 12, 2017, that it would extend the deadline to June 30, 2018 with one catch......that proof of the filing of your permit application be provided to New York Rising by a new deadline, which is June 30th of THIS year. Residents were only given 18 days notice of this new deadline to submit bulding permit applications, which require architectural plans that many do not yet have. This has exacerbated an already desparate situation for architects and building departments all across Long Island's south shore as well as homeowners who are now in danger of being dropped from the program and forced to reimburse whatever funds have already been spent. Over 2,200 homeowners are part of the program. Some might not even know of the new deadline yet.
In a rally and press conference held Wednesday at Hempstead Town Hall, Legislator Rhoads, affected residents and Councilman D'Esposito demanded that Governor Andrew Cuomo intercede and eliminate the deadlines.
“New York Rising's arbitrary deadlines do not take into account the realities faced by the very homeowners they are supposed to be helping and are making recovery more difficult, not easier", Legislator Rhoads said. "As local elected officials, we stand united with the communities we represent to demand with one voice that the Governor exercise his authority to eliminate the deadlines- eliminate the red tape- and direct New York Rising to fulfill its mission to all still struggling to recover and rebuild. After 4 1/2 years, it is time for the Governor to deliver on the promises he made to these families in the aftermath of the storm", he concluded.
This is not the first time that Legislator Steve Rhoads has stepped up to the plate for Superstorm Sandy families. Rhoads held a press conference back in February, successfully demanding modifications to the application of New York Rising's March 1, 2017 deadline for Scope of Work Change Requests which New York Rising was requiring be fully submitted before the construction that would uncover many of the latent issues which would generate such a request, had even begun.
Rhoads also sponsored legislation at the Nassau County Legislature which extended fee waivers for all County fees required for Sandy-related recovery and rebuilding. "I represent south shore communities like Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh and Seaford who were devastated by Superstorm Sandy, Rhoads said. "I want families in those communities and all across our south shore to know that after 4 1/2 years, many in government may have forgotten you. I have not. And while as a County Legislator I don't have a say in programs like New York Rising, I will continue to use whatever influence I do have to fight for you."
Click on link below to see the ABC Television News Report on Wednesday's press conference:
Click on link below to see the Newsday Report on Legislator Rhoads' February 2017 battle with New York Rising: