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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 06: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L) speaks at a City Hall press conference on federal funds for Superstorm Sandy on February 6, 2013 in New York City.
Published 4:12 p.m. ET: New York City will use the first round of Superstorm Sandy relief to help residents repair homes, rebuild local businesses and use competition to spur development of storm resilient technology, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Wednesday.
Bloomberg laid out how the city will use the nearly $1.8 billion in initial aid to recover from the historic storm that ravaged parts of the East Coast in late October. The primary focus, he said at a press conference, is to help city residence repair their damaged property.
“We said at the very beginning that that was our real priority, to get people back in their homes. And we just made enormous progress,” said Bloomberg.
This initial wave of funding is just the first round of aid the city hopes to receive from the $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package passed by Congress last month. The first installment of the package will total $5.4 billion, with New York State receiving $1.7 billion, $1.8 billion going to New Jersey, and the rest being split among Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland.
The $720 million set aside for housing recovery has also been designated for making low-income homes and apartments more storm resistant for future inclement weather. Investments will also be made in permanent emergency generators public housing.
Likewise, $185 will be set aside for business recovery, including $100 million in grants to local businesses. Businesses that accept the aid will be required to reinvest in their New York City presence.
Building off “Race to the Top,” a popular Department of Education initiative to spur innovation in American classrooms, the businessman turned mayor announced a $5-million competition for the most innovative and cost-effective ideas to produce storm resilient technologies that can be replicated throughout the city.
“You can’t have a neighborhood, you can’t live, if there aren’t local stores to get you jobs and buy local goods,” said Bloomberg. “So we want to make sure they recover and make themselves less vulnerable going forward.”
The third area the aid will go towards is making New York's infrastructure more resilient. A $40 million “Critical Utility Infrastructure Resiliency Competition” was announced to encourage development in storm resiliency measures. A $100 million “Neighborhood Game-Changer Investment Competition” was also unveiled to spur ideas for long-term investment throughout New York City.
Bloomberg said the first round of relief was allocated to “to meet the most urgent needs of communities that sandy hit the hardest.”
“We’re talking about the first stage of a plan that will bring a lot of relief to New York City,” he added.
Bloomberg said he expects the projects he announced Wednesday to be underway by early May.