Initiative readies funds for flood damaged homes, businesses

Initiative readies funds for flood damaged homes, businesses

Local and county government contributions toward the state’s new Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI), which addresses sustainability in light of recent flooding along the Lake Ontario shoreline and St. Lawrence River, have been lowered in response to municipality pushback, according to a letter from REDI co-chairs this week.

The REDI program allocates $300 million toward the immediate and long-term resiliency of the waterfront communities. As a result of community feedback, REDI has reduced the local match from 15 percent to 5 percent for all qualifying projects.

On Aug. 7, REDI officials said up to $20 million of the $300 million would be earmarked for an expansion of its Department of Housing and Community Renewal Residential Home Repair Program. The program also will award each of the affected eight counties—including Monroe, Orleans and Wayne in the Rochester area—with up to $15 million 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.

REDI co-chairs Basil Seggos, state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, and Eric Gertler, Empire State Development acting commissioner, said that while the work of the initiative has been on investing in municipal resiliency infrastructure, communities expressed the need for funding of private businesses, particularly marinas. REDI will allocate some $30 million of the $160 million toward private business projects focused on resiliency.

The REDI program will contribute up to 50 percent of the total cost of the private resiliency projects capped at $200,000, with a local match expected to be 5 percent of the state contribution.

Homeowners whose primary residences are affected by flood damage along those shorelines will receive some funding, as available. Those homeowners will be prioritized ahead of those whose houses are secondary residences, officials said.

“Working together, we believe this approach addresses the major issues brought to our attention,” Seggos and Gertler said in their letter. “Obviously, this is a difficult situation for all involved but we are on our way to making real progress.”

In a separate news release this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the application period for the 2019 Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Flood Relief and Recovery Program will run through Oct. 31, allowing homeowners to apply for up to $50,000 in damage recovery funds.

“Historic flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has had severe consequences for homeowners and it is vital that New York State intervene and lend a helping hand,” Cuomo said in the statement. “While the state continues to focus on regionally significant rebuilding and resiliency efforts, the $20 million available for homeowners will provide much needed financial relief and is a major step forward for families recovering from these devastating floods.”

Applications are available on the state Homes and Community Renewal website.

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