Governor Cuomo says he's willing to spend as much as $400 million to buy some of the 10,000 damaged homes sitting in the path of Hurricane Sandy. The Times reports that the governor is willing to pay pre-storm market prices for some homes, and offer a 5% bonus above market value to those who relocate in their home county. The bonus would jump to 10% if the house sits in an area considered extremely vulnerable, and may extend to structures that weren't badly damaged (or damaged at all) in the storm.
Last month, Governor Cuomo urged residents living in the low-lying areas hit hardest by Sandy to "move on," and added, "Maybe Mother Nature doesn't want you here." Some residents agree: Staten Island landlord Joseph Tirone, Jr. heads up the Oakwood Beach Buyout Committee. So far the committee has 133 of 165 households in Fox Beach section of the neighborhood backing a coordinated plan to sell. “These people have been so beat up," Tirone said. "It’s just gotten to be too much.”
Cuomo's plan would use a portion of the $50 billion Sandy relief bill passed by Congress to pay for the plan. Unused lots would simply lie fallow, or be turned into parks.
A spokesman for the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force told the Times that it's "premature" to be discussing the plans particulars. Despite his previous comment that his administration wouldn't "abandon the waterfront," Mayor Bloomberg told Capital New York last week that he supports the plan if all parties are on board: "We'll do anything we can to help people, and if they want to sell and the government's willing to buy…"
Naturally, not all residents are convinced. “There’s an expression: we have the sand in our shoes," said Harvey Weisenberg, a Democratic State Assemblyman who represents Long Beach. "Once you’re here, you never want to leave, and if you do leave, you want to come back.”
Cynthia Koulouris, a Rockaways resident for 41 years whose basement was flooded during Sandy, told the paper she didn't know where she'd move even if she wanted to leave. “Nobody wants to leave here. Where would I go? To Astoria? To Brooklyn? No!” The state currently estimates that only 10 to 15% of those eligible for a government buyout would accept it.