Much of Red cross Sandy funds remain unspent seven months after the powerful storm destroyed portions of the Northeastern United States coast. Most recently, it is estimated that the Red Cross is still holding funds in excess of $100 million.
Josh Lockwood, CEO of the New York Region of the Red cross explains that the money will be better spent wisely over time. State officials are still working toward allocating $60 billion in federal aid. When that money is spent, officials with the Red cross will step in to provide finding where it is most needed.
As reported by the Associated Press, close to $30,000 of the Red Cross Sandy funds have been allocated to the “move-in assistance” program. The program grants families up to $10,000 each to secure housing.
As the program has numerous eligibility guidelines, there are currently 4,000 people on a waiting list. Around 2,000 people have received funding through the program to date.
Officials point out that while short-term funding is important, long-term funding allocation takes time. As months pass, private donations dwindle and state and federal agencies are tasked with the long-term costs of rebuilding. Officials with the Red Cross plan to use the remaining Sandy funds to support those long-term projects.
Unfortunately, some problems do not even surface until months after a disaster occurs. Complaints of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often appear months after a disaster. Mental health care costs can be overwhelming. In Haiti, an epidemic of cholera appeared nearly a year after a massive earthquake. Thousands of people died as funding ran out months before.
As reported by ABC, Red Cross officials are trying to think ahead and remain contentious with their spending. Ben Smilowitz with the Disaster Accountability agrees with the way the funds are being allocated:
“The Red Cross has never been a recovery operation. Their responsibility has always been mass care … Stick with what you’re good at.”
Still, critics have complained that Hurricane Sandy victims need the money now, not later. Kathleen McCarthy of the Center for the study of Philanthropy and Civil Society at the University of New York contends that failing to address immediate issues will only lead to larger problems later. She discusses some issues faced by storm victims this past winter:
“People were cold. Homes mildewed. There wasn’t enough decent housing … Given the lingering despair, it’s hard to understand the argument that ‘We are setting that money aside.'”
Despite the criticism, much of the Red Cross Sandy funds will remain unspent until the entire long-term situation is assessed. As disaster situations often evolve months later, they hope the money will be spent wisely and efficiently in the coming months.
[Image via Wikimedia]