Shoreline homeowners whose properties have sustained damage from flooding and high water levels of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River will have an opportunity to obtain financial assistance from a $20 million pot allocated by the state.
The Lake Ontario Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative commission, tasked with supporting projects to bolster economic development and recovery from future inundation in shoreline communities, decided to designate a portion of its $300 million in funds for homes through the state Department of Housing and Community Renewal Residential Home Repair Program.
The commission co-chairs, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos and Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky, described the allocation in a joint-letter to various municipalities released Wednesday, which they made in response “a number of homeowners” requesting individual assistance.
“As a point of clarification, local government can propose projects to protect against economic loss from home value deflation by flood exposure where the local government has identified a geographic configuration allowing a break wall or dunes to protect a critical mass of homes,” they wrote. “For example, a water barrier will be ineffective if designed to only protect several homes as the water intrusion from the surrounding neighbors moot the effect of the barrier. Local governments would need to submit geographically and physically feasible project designs.”
When asked about allocation, State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said Wednesday she believed the state will provide details about how homeowners can apply for the funds at a later date. The senator also confirmed that financing would be available to homeowners on both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
“I’m thrilled the governor listened and allocated $20 million,” she said. “I have several hundred people on a list already who called into my office” for help.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo launched the initiative, also known as REDI, in June to help waterfront communities that have been dealing with flooding from the high water levels this summer and in 2017.
More than 500 projects had been submitted from before the deadline on Friday from waterfront counties across the state that involved replacing, repairing, obtaining or enhancing certain assets. More than 200 of those projects were submitted by communities in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties. All were categorized as involving cultural and natural resources, infrastructure, economic, housing and health and social services. Some included enhancing docks, waterfront access, seawalls, water and sewer systems.
“We are estimating awards of approximately up to $15 million total for qualifying projects per county and additional funding of up to $160 million in total for regionally significant large-scale economic development and resiliency projects,” the co-chairs wrote in their letter.