Saturday, 10 August 2013 00:00
Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) recently joined local officials and the presidents of co-op and condo boards in Queens to announce legislation that would make co-op and condo associations eligible for the same vital assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as other homeowners. Currently, co-ops and condos are only eligible to receive loans and not grants. Rep. Israel sent two letters earlier in the year to the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA urging them to change this policy, but has come to the conclusion that a legislative solution is needed to make this change.
Israel said, “A storm does not discriminate where it hits, and FEMA should not be discriminating what type of homeowners it helps. It seems clear that FEMA’s policy is the result of not understanding the role of co-ops and condos in our community. I am introducing this legislation to allow co-op and condo associations to apply for federal grants from FEMA so we can right this wrong and ensure that these homeowners are eligible to receive the vital assistance they deserve.”
New York State Senator Tony Avella, “Homeowners of every kind deserve the same FEMA assistance when a storm hits. That’s why I’m working with Rep. Israel and members of the Queens delegation to ensure that coop and condo owners are treated fairly. I thank Rep. Israel for his continued efforts and for introducing this legislation.”
Councilman Mark Weprin said, “Co-op residents deserve equal access to federal funds for repairs like those needed after Hurricane Sandy. I thank Congress Member Israel for introducing this legislation.”
Warren Schreiber, President of the Bay Terrace Cooperative Section I, Inc. and Co-President of Presidents Co-op & Condo Council, said, “Making housing Cooperatives and Condominiums eligible for FEMA grants will assist those properties in recovering from natural and other disasters. Currently, the cost of disaster related repairs fall squarely upon the shoulders of middle class owners who are least able to bear additional financial burdens. Amending the Stafford act will provide co-ops and condos with the same protections afforded other property owners. The co-op and condo community welcomes and supports the legislation being introduced by Congressman Israel.”
Bob Friedrich, President of Glen Oaks Village, the largest garden apartment co-op in New York with 10,000 residents and and Co-President of Presidents Co-op & Condo Council said, “It is unconscionable that FEMA refuses to help the working class community of Glen Oaks Village that sustained more than $250,000 of damage from Hurricane Sandy because we are a co-op. Let me remind FEMA that the mothers, fathers and children of Glen Oaks Village are no different than the mothers, fathers and children who live in private homes. To deny co-ops the abilty to obtain FEMA grant money simply because of the type of housing choices their residents have made is shameful and should not have taken this legislation to correct it.”
Co-ops are housing communities made up of individual apartment owners who help manage and maintain housing, common areas, and residential infrastructure. FEMA classifies co-op associations as “businesses,” meaning they are eligible to apply for loans through the Small Business Administration, but not for FEMA grants. Currently, FEMA offers grants for recovery efforts through the Individuals and Households Program (IHP) as well as the Public Assistance (PA) Program.
Israel’s legislation would list co-op and condo associations as entities eligible to apply for assistance through FEMA’s Individual and Households Program (IHP). It would also add definitions for housing cooperative and condominium into the Stafford Act, and would call for the rulemaking process to determine a new cap on IHP assistance for co-op and condo associations.