Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the Community Reconstruction Zones (CRZ) program, a bottom-up, community driven initiative that will empower localities that were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, or Tropical Storm Lee to develop comprehensive and innovative local rebuilding plans that will be funded by the state and federal government. The program will be funded by Federal Supplemental disaster aid fought for by Governor Cuomo and approved by Congress and signed by the President earlier this year.
"Communities across New York, from Long Island to Binghamton to Essex County, suffered incredible damage and loss from the wrath of the major storms that have hit our state over the past two years," Governor Cuomo said. "The Community Reconstruction Zone program we are launching today will empower localities to put together a team of local officials, residents and leaders who know their communities best to develop rebuilding plans that will guide the local recovery process. With the State's assistance, these communities will identify their needs and risks, as well as identify ways to strengthen their resiliency for the future. Under this plan, New York is not just doing reconstruction work -- we are building back better and smarter than before."
The Action Plan submitted by Governor Cuomo to the federal government in April will guide the allocation of the initial $1.7 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program funding. Under the CRZ program, New York State will allocate federal planning grants approved by HUD to localities to develop comprehensive, innovative rebuilding plans -- from the bottom up -- that consider current damage, future threats, and the community's economic opportunities. The amounts ultimately allocated to communities will be based on damage assessed by FEMA and the population and will be awarded for projects and activities approved by HUD once the community's plan is complete and meets established criteria. For most communities, grants will range from $3 million to $25 million if approved. Eligible communities will be provided with initial planning grants to produce CRZ plans.
New York State Senate Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos said, "Today's announcement is another important step in helping the thousands of families affected by Hurricane Sandy and other major storms rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives. I commend the Governor for his determination in ensuring that New Yorkers get the help they need and deserve, and thank Secretary Donovan and the administration for standing with New York as we continue to recover from these catastrophic storms."
Senate Majority Coalition Co-Leader Jeff Klein said, "The Community Reconstruction Zone program is a smart approach that will enable local communities to develop comprehensive and community-specific plans for their current and future needs. With so many reconstruction and preparation projects in the pipeline, it's important that we continue to identify innovative, locally-driven initiatives that maximize the use of limited storm recovery dollars. Sandy victims throughout the Bronx, New York City, Rockland County, and Long Island have reason to cheer today, as the release of $1.7 billion in CDBG grants is going to help businesses and homeowners rebuild better and stronger than ever before. I commend Governor Cuomo and my partners in government for continuing to develop and support smart programs that will help build a stronger and more resilient New York State."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "Local residents and officials know best where the most urgent needs are in their own communities. By empowering the people on the ground, we are making sure that our recovery from these devastating storms is carried out smartly, effectively and in a way that will provide the most help to the most people. In my own Lower Manhattan community, where many small businesses, particularly at the South Street Seaport and in Chinatown, have been wiped out by Superstorm Sandy, I have been working with community leaders and local residents to identify ways to fully rebuild and protect against future catastrophes. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts in helping our city and state recover. I also want to thank U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, who as a New Yorker understands first-hand the problems we face."
Senator Tom Libous said, "Families and business owners in our community and across the State are still rebuilding their lives after the recent floods. Governor Cuomo's Community Reconstruction Zone program gives us a smart, localized approach to flood recovery in each community."
Kevin Law, co-chair of LI REDC and Chairman of the Long Island Housing Partnership, said, "The Governor's programs to assist homeowners, small businesses, and communities in Long Island will help the region recover and rebuild better than ever. The CRZ regional and community planning program will facilitate the kind of creative, collaborative planning that we need to bring true long-term resilience and economic growth."
To develop its plan, each community will convene a CRZ Planning Committee, which will include a representative from the County, Town or Village, elected legislative representatives, local residents, and local community, academic and business leaders. The development of a successful plan will qualify a community to receive further federal funding to implement identified projects. The State will conduct workshops to help the Planning Committees develop their plans.