FEMA Wants NYC Disabled And Elderly Residents To Pay Back Aid From Hurricane Sandy

Most people were either ill-prepared or not prepared at all when super storm Hurricane Sandy passed through the northeast. To be fair, such lack or preparation isn’t because people were ignorant, but because the areas that were hit are not known for receiving the blunt wrath of hurricanes. The Inquisitr reported on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s wake, primarily on financial aid. The Red Cross spent about $300 million in funds to provide assistance, but have not disclosed where that money came from. Also, FEMA is now wanting those who were given aid by them to pay it back! That’s right! They want their money back!

In accordance to the recoupment of funds FEMA is handing out, the agency is now hitting a new low by wanting their money back not just from anyone, but from the disabled elderly.

According to the Boston Globe, the residents of Belle Harbor Manor spent four months in emergency shelters after Hurricane Sandy flooded their assisted-living center in New York City’s Rockaway peninsula. Now they are back home but they’re now enduring a different kind of storm: FEMA wanting their money back! It is true that FEMA has been reported to overpay aid but wanting thousands back from the elderly disabled — most of whom are poor — is shocking.

Robert Rosenberg, a 61-year-old man who is among one of the residents of Belle Harbor Manor, is one of at least a dozen residents to get a notice from FEMA informing them that they had retroactively been declared ineligible for aid checks they received two years ago as a result of Hurricane Sandy. What is messed up about the situation is that said aid was supposed to be used for temporary housing but that never happened. Instead, the Belle Harbor Manor residents were shuffled off from one state-funded shelter to another. Now, FEMA is wanting Rosenberg to pay $2,486 or file an appeal.

Of course, Robert Rosenberg cannot pay such a lump sum of money because he is on a fixed income. He cannot work because he suffers from a spinal disability and other chronic health problems and he doesn’t have the money he received then because he spent it all on food and clothes, both of which were in short supply after Hurricane Sandy.

Fox News also reported on the situation in which they provide details on how FEMA works as explained by FEMA spokesman Rafael Lemaitre. He said that the agency is required by law to recoup improper payments but did not directly address the Belle Harbor Manor residents’ situation.

“FEMA remains committed to working with applicants and ensuring they have an understanding of the options available to resolve their debt, which includes making a payment, filling an appeal, requesting a compromise and establishing a payment plan.”

Recoupment is nothing new with FEMA in which they provide such actions for households ineligible for assistance because damaged properties were vacation home or rentals or families that received extra payments because more than one family member applied for assistance. FEMA even recoups emergency aid payments for damage later covered by insurance.

The stipulation with the Belle Harbor Manor residents is that said FEMA aid was specifically for housing and not for anything else. Robert Rosenberg, as well as other residents, used the aid to pay for other necessities (in Rosenberg’s case, that was food and clothing). As a result, FEMA is pushing recoupment.

Now that you’ve heard about the situation that Robert Rosenberg and other Belle Harbor Manor residents are facing, what are your opinions? Should they pay the money back because it was supposed to be for housing only or should FEMA drop this situation knowing that the residents are disabled elderly?

[Image via Kathy Willens]