NY aims to spur $3B in private loans for Sandy aid
By BETHAN MCKERNAN
The Associated Press | August 01,2013
NEW YORK — The state is taking actions aimed at generating more than $3 billion in private sector loans for Superstorm Sandy rebuilding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says.
The Department of Financial Services will offer incentives to private banks if they issue loans for Sandy rebuilding projects in 102 neighborhoods that are part of the publicly funded New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. Banks with good performance records will be given priority when the state reviews their applications for new branches or for mergers and acquisitions.
The New York Rising program aims to build infrastructure better suited to withstand bad weather and make energy supplies in storm-hit areas more sustainable by introducing solar panels and public charging stations. The program is also designed to help small businesses hurt by the storm get back on their feet.
“Communities across New York state have been shaken by major storms in the past few years, and we must adapt to the new norm of extreme weather,” Cuomo said in a statement. “State government is doing its part to bolster the storm recovery process.”
The governor’s office said the incentive for lenders is expected to spur $3.2 billion in private investment for Sandy-hit areas. The governor is also directing state agencies to prioritize rebuilding projects and to accelerate permit applications.
“This action will help spark billions of dollars in lending and private investment in communities that were hit hard by these devastating natural disasters,” said Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of Financial Services. “We’ll continue to work in partnership with local stakeholders to rebuild these communities and help them better withstand future storms.”
Jack Schnirman, city manager of Long Beach in Nassau County, was pleased about the announcement. “This is a great example of cutting through bureaucracy,” he said. “It will expedite funding to communities like ours that need it most.”
Creating incentives for banks to lend was made possible through the federal Community Reinvestment Act, which encourages banks to offer services in poor and minority neighborhoods and areas affected by disaster. It comes on top of $500 million in HUD Community Development Block Grant funds previously announced for recovery plans across New York City and Long Island.