Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) is urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to clarify the allocation of Superstorm Sandy funds for Westchester residents recovering from the aftermath of that storm. The funding, $14.7 million for Westchester, will be provided through the HUD's Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief program.
Rep. Engel said, "Westchester County has been embroiled in an ongoing, separate dispute with HUD, since 2011, over the county's eligibility to receive general CDBG funds. While this dispute and the disaster relief funds are two separate issues, a number of constituents have told me they are worried that one will affect the other. I have asked HUD to clarify this situation and ensure that the people of Westchester County will receive disaster relief funding regardless of any other issues which may exist between the county and HUD," said Rep. Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Text of the letter is below:
Secretary Shaun Donovan
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan,
I write to you with strong concerns regarding New York State's allocation of $1.713 billion Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, and the ongoing dispute between the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Westchester County over housing that has affected CDBG funds.
As you know, Westchester County has been allocated $14.5 million in CDBG-DR funds. Simultaneously, Westchester has been in an ongoing, separate, dispute with HUD, dating back to 2011, over the eligibility to receive general CDBG funds. This dispute has held up current and future Westchester CDBG funding. First and foremost is my concern for the residents and small businesses in the County who are trying to recover from Superstorm Sandy. Their need must be kept at the forefront of all of your considerations.
I understand that the allocation and disbursement of CDBG-DR funds and the larger issue of Westchester's dispute over general CDBG funds are two separate issues. Additionally, I have been informed that this dispute will not negatively impact the disaster relief allocation. However, I have received numerous questions and points of concern from my constituents, and therefore request that HUD provide clarification on this point.
Superstorm Sandy greatly damaged my district, and my constituents seek assurance that aid is on the way. Clarity on this point will go a long way towards assuaging the concerns of my constituents. I want to make absolutely certain that my constituents are not penalized in getting much deserved relief as a result of this ongoing dispute. Any outside disagreements between HUD and Westchester are irrelevant to those suffering the storm's devastation. Those whose businesses are flooded, or whose homes are destroyed, need help and have zero patience for confusion about needed aid. Neither do I. I look forward to receiving your prompt response to my inquiry.
Eliot L. Engel
Member of Congress