Belle Harbor Manor citizens spent 4 wretched months in emergency shelters after Superstorm Sandy’s floodwaters rushed through their living center on New York City’s Rockaway peninsula.
At the moment, the home’s disabled, seniors and mostly poor citizens possess a new nuisance: The FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has requested some of them to repay 1000’s of dollars in disaster aid.
Recently, Robert Rosenberg, 61, who was one of the Belle Harbor Manor citizens who got notices from FEMA telling them that they retroactively been affirmed disqualified for aid inspections they received 2 yrs ago within the storm’s immediate consequences. The issue, the letters stated, could be that the money was intended to have been allocated to temporary housing, however that never happened since the citizens were moved from one state-funded shelter to another.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency gave Rosenberg until 15th November to mail a reimbursement check for $2,486 or file a petition.
Rosenberg said, “We are on the fixed earnings. I don’t have that money! I am suffering from a spine disability along with other chronic health issues. Long ago, I spent that aid money on food and clothing, both of which were in short supply after the storm.”
Certainly, these demand letters are part of a larger FEMA effort to recuperate huge amount of money in aid obligations that went to barred homes, either due to errors, a misunderstanding of the rules or utter fraud.
FEMA was inspecting 4,500 homes it suspected had received improper aids. In those days, 850 has been requested to return a sum of $5.8 million. Some other cases are still under review, the Associated Press reported in September.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press requested up-to-date figures on the number of storm sufferers who was simply requested to return money, but FEMA did not immediately provide them.
Though, data acquired via a previous public records request demonstrated that by July 30, the company was thinking about a recoupment action against 35 citizens of aided living facilities within the same a part of Queens that’s the home to Belle Harbor Manor. Overall, those citizens had received $108,598, with most of that money projected to cover temporary housing. 5 citizens had also received aid to cover destroyed property.
Right after their hysterical migration, Belle Harbor Manor citizens were initially come to an enormous evacuation center setup in the Brooklyn armory, then spent a short period sleeping four-to-a-room in a hotel inside a crime-affected neighborhood where these were advised not to go outdoors at night.
Afterwards, the state then moved the citizens, a lot of whom are afflicted with mild mental ailments, to some midway house on the grounds of a partly-abandoned psychiatric hospital in Queens, where they bunked on cots and were barred from getting site visitors in their rooms.
Rosenberg told that the FEMA employees who advised him to get assistance during the time when citizens were staying in the armory never described that the money could just be used for housing.
“Everybody asked, ‘Do we need to pay this back afterwards? Is it a loan?’ They said, ‘No. It is a gift from Obama,'” he stated. “If I wasn’t qualified, then why give it to me in the first place? They already knew i was residing in an old home and my shelter was being paid for by the state. It isn’t like I lied on the application.
It wasn’t clear that time how long they would be in the shelter, or where they would go next.
Rafael Lemaitre, FEMA speaker stated that the company was needed legally to extract improper payments, but didn’t directly address the residents’ situation.
He further added, “FEMA remains dedicated to dealing with candidates and making certain they understand the choices open to resolve their debt, including creating a payment, filling a petition, asking for an agreement and creating a repayment plan.”
Other prevalent kinds of FEMA recoupment actions include homes ineligible for help as their damaged properties were vacation houses or rental properties, or families that received extra payments because several household members had requested assistance. FEMA also generally recoups emergency aid payments for damage afterward covered by insurance.
Lawyers at MFY Legal Services, a legitimate aid group which has worked with adult home citizens previously, have provided to help Belle Harbor Manor citizens using their appeals.
MFY attorney Nahid Sorooshyari, “Our stance is that it would be an intolerable financial hardship and injustice, to ask the citizens to pay back the aid money.”