Undocumented Immigrants Still In Post-Storm Limbo

February 11, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Midland Beach — When New York City unveiled plans last Wednesday to spend the bulk of its first $1 billion in federal aid for Hurricane Sandy on loans and grants for homeowners and on shoring up public housing and utility networks against future disasters, there was no mention of one of its most unprotected populations – undocumented immigrants.

The funds represent nearly $1.8 billion destined for the city in the first stage of a $51 billion federal recovery package for New York and neighboring states. “These funds will help New Yorkers who were the hardest hit by Sandy get back on their feet and help communities build back,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The plans include $350 million in grants for 9,300 low-to-moderate-income owners of single-family homes, and $250 million on grants and low-interest loans for repairs on nearly 13,000 units of low-to-middle-income homes and apartments.

The most vulnerable New Yorkers bore the brunt of the storm’s wrath – middle- and lower-income households, or those less able to quickly recover from a disaster of such magnitude. The undocumented were particularly susceptible, even those who had children or grandchildren born in the United States and thus eligible for federal aid.

“There’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty,” says Sara Cullinane, Sandy relief coordinator for the non-profit Make the Road New York, a grassroots organization assisting storm victims on Long Island and Staten Island. “I knew it was a disaster when it hit but it feels like there’s a second disaster, which is just figuring out how to access aid and how to make the system work.”

Last week, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg said in an email that “details for the recovery programs … are in the process of being worked out.” Governor Cuomo’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

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