City to receive $500,000 grant to help with storm damage

The city of Bridgeport has been chosen from among nearly 1,000 applicants in communities throughout the tri-state area to receive $500,000 in Hurricane Sandy relief grant funds from the New York City-based Robin Hood Foundation.

Bridgeport was the only Connecticut municipality included in a recently-announced round of funding totaling $7 million to towns and cities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, which were hard hit last October by Hurricane Sandy. So far, the Robin Hood Foundation has surpassed $70 million in Hurricane Sandy relief grants.

“The residents of Seaside Village and Marina Village have unfortunately seen firsthand the effects of climate change in their neighborhood,” Mayor Bill Finch said. “The damages we are seeing with each major storm that hits our coastline seems to be getting worse. The funds the city has secured from the Robin Hood Foundation will go a long way toward helping these residents return to safe and stable housing.”

The $500,000 grant will be used to help elderly and low-income residents of Seaside Village and Marina Village that suffered significant damage due to Hurricane Sandy. The Robin Hood funds will be used for housing rehabilitation, reconstruction, temporary rental assistance and furniture and appliance replacement.

“We are very grateful to the Robin Hood Foundation and the city of Bridgeport for this grant,” said Christy Gallagher, Seaside Village board treasurer. “Our historic village is just now recovering from Hurricane Sandy, our second devastating storm in two years. These funds will allow our board and management to begin the process of moving mechanicals out of our basements.”

The grant must now be approved by the Economic and Community Development and Environment Committee and the City Council.

Once the funding is approved by the City Council, the city will establish an Assessment Committee to be appointed by the mayor, which will consist of members/representatives from the following agencies/organizations the Housing Authority of the City of Bridgeport (HACB)/Marina Village, Seaside Village, Bridgeport City Council (131th District), Office of Neighborhood Revitalization, Department of Health and Social Services (BDHSS) and Department of Housing and Community Development.

The committee will work with the Housing Authority, the Seaside Village Board of Directors and multiple city agencies to conduct outreach and assessment of Marina Village and Seaside Village.

After conducting outreach and assessments, the committee will determine which households will be compensated based on the level of their need. A percentage of Robin Hood Relief Funds will be set aside for individuals who have experienced significant damages such as those whose home has been rendered uninhabitable.

The primary purpose of the $500,000 grant funds will be to assist Seaside Village residents who have the most need to elevate basement utilities in their units.

Understanding that the $500,000 will not be enough to cover all costs associated with utility elevation, the city will also be applying for CDBG Disaster Recovery Funds that will supplement the Robin Hood Relief Funds. Finally, another portion of funding will be allocated to those who experienced personal property damage, such as the loss of furniture or appliances.

In order to apply for assistance, a household must have the necessary documentation of flood or wind damage. If a household does not have appropriate documentation, the Assessment Committee will enlist city code enforcement officers to determine if damages occurred and to what extent. All applicants must meet income eligibility requirements of low and moderate income status, which is determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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