Schneiderman: Too many of our neighbors are still struggling, which is why I remain committed to maximizing relief for Sandy recovery efforts
As the one-year anniversary of "Superstorm" Sandy approaches, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has announced he has secured agreements with four charitable organizations that will provide nearly $10 million of assistance to communities still struggling to recover. Under the terms of an agreement reached with his office, the American Red Cross will deliver $6 million in new funding to address urgent housing-related needs resulting from Sandy. Those funds are in addition to the $308 million the American Red Cross has already allocated to Sandy recovery efforts.
Schneiderman also announced the Brees Dream Foundation - the foundation established by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife - has agreed to disburse $225,000 in unspent Sandy-related donations by Oct. 1, 2014. Kids in Distressed Situations Inc. agreed to disburse more than $288,000 in unspent donations by early 2014. And the New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has agreed to spend $3.15 million in installments: $1 million by Aug. 31 2014, and $1 million per year in each of the next two years.
Schneiderman announced these four agreements during a news conference in a Long Beach neighborhood that is still struggling to recover from damage sustained when Sandy struck the region in late October 2012. During the news conference, the A.G. also released a new report detailing all the work his office has done in the last year to help New York homeowners and consumers recover from the storm.
"In the aftermath of 'Superstorm' Sandy, people throughout New York, across the country and around the world opened their hearts and made more than half a billion dollars in charitable contributions to help those in need," Schneiderman said. "As the one-year anniversary of this devastating storm approaches, New Yorkers have once again demonstrated the strong will and resilience that makes our community great. Unfortunately, too many of our neighbors are still struggling to recover, which is why I remain committed to ensuring that my office uses every tool at its disposal to maximize relief for Sandy recovery efforts. I want to recognize and thank the organizations that have worked with us to forge these agreements, and so many other charities, for the extraordinary efforts they have made to serve New Yorkers in the wake of this storm. Their work made an enormous difference for countless New Yorkers, and we look forward to ongoing collaboration as that work continues."
"This agreement will build on our efforts to help the residents of communities still struggling from the affects of Hurricane Sandy get back on their feet so they can rebuild for the future," said Senate Co-Leader Dean G. Skelos. "I applaud the attorney general's office for their commitment to ensuring that New York recovers from this catastrophic and life-altering storm, allowing us to continue to move forward together with every public and private resource that is available."
"The American Red Cross and dozens of other governmental and non-governmental entities responded with maximum effort and resources to this unprecedented disaster," said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the Red Cross. "The needs of Sandy survivors remain significant, and the Red Cross has agreed to step up and commit additional funds to address these unmet needs."
"NYAC is very pleased to work with Attorney General Schneiderman and other organizations who are engaged in long-term recovery efforts," said the Rev. Tom Vencuss, coordinator of disaster recovery ministries, New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
On Oct. 29, "Superstorm' Sandy made landfall in the northeast. Roughly two weeks later, the region was hit by a powerful nor'easter that left thousands out in the cold again. In New York state alone, 48 people were killed directly by the storm. Sandy cost New York $42 billion, displaced thousands of people from their homes, and caused widespread power outages and gas shortages.
As a result of the devastation, people around the world contributed funds to help the relief effort. Charities reported raising more than $575 million in funds for Sandy relief. To ensure that Sandy-related donations were spent as contributors intended, Schneiderman directed his office's charities bureau - which regulates all charities that operate or raise funds in the state of New York - to review Sandy-related contributions to make sure that funds are distributed as advertised to donors.
For the last year, the charities bureau has sought information from nearly 90 nonprofit organizations engaged in Sandy fundraising and relief efforts. Earlier this year, the office of the attorney general issued a preliminary report detailing how much of the more than $575 million raised for Sandy relief efforts had been spent as of April 2013. The agreements with the American Red Cross, the Brees Dream Foundation, NYAC, and Kids in Distressed Situations are a part of that effort.
Schneiderman also released a new report detailing the efforts his office has taken to help New Yorkers overcome the challenges posed by Sandy. Among the accomplishments:
•Tracking $575 million in charitable giving after Sandy to ensure that help gets to those who need it;
•Providing funding to counsel 1,500 homeowners on a range of Sandy-related home retention issues, including mortgage modifications and insurance problems;
•Obtaining almost $300,000 worth of penalties and costs from 43 gas stations that engaged in illegal price gouging after the storm;
•Securing more than $5.3 million for workers who were underpaid on Sandy recovery projects; and
•Intervening to prevent New Yorkers from being denied vital communications services in the post-Sandy rebuilding process.
For the full report, visit www.ag.ny.gov.
Tips for donors supporting Hurricane Sandy relief, as well as financial reports of charities, are available on Schneiderman's website, www.charitiesnys.com.