New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

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A Congressman and Co-op / Condo Advocates Push to Reshape FEMA Aid

Shore View Condominiums, Beach 92nd Street, Rockaway Beach

Shore View Condominiums during superstorm-Sandy cleanup, November 2012
Shore View Condominiums during superstorm-Sandy cleanup, 2012
Sept. 11, 2014

One problem, according to the Shore View board and many others, is that the law categorizes cooperatives and condominiums as businesses, which makes them ineligible for disaster grants.

"Condos are not businesses," Simmons says. "We sell nothing. We make no profit. We have to be seen as homes. It goes beyond FEMA. There needs to be more awareness about this issue, and laws have to change."

Task Master

To that end, Simmons is serving on the Queens Co-op and Condo Task Force convened by Queens borough president Melinda Katz. It comprises board presidents and property managers, and will address disaster relief and other issues facing the city's co-op and condo residents.

Co-op / Condo Apartment-

Owners, However, Already

Receive FEMA Grants

Last year, Representative Steve Israel (D - N.Y.) introduced legislation that would end the designation of cooperatives and condominiums as businesses and make boards eligible for federal disaster grants, the way co-op / condo apartment-owners already are. He has won co-sponsors from both political parties and the backing of numerous co-op and condo advocates, including the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condominiums.

"We've been trying increasingly hard to get co-sponsors for the bill across the country," says the organization's executive director, Mary Ann Rothman. "This isn't Hurricane Sandy legislation; this is disaster legislation."

Pros and Congress

For now, though, it's uncertain if the proposed legislation will go anywhere. The defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary earlier this year by a Tea Party candidate has cast a chill on Congress as the midterm elections approach. Movement on controversial legislation, already difficult, is now seen as nearly impossible.

Shore View ultimately applied for a low-interest $212,800 loan from the Small Business Administration, and is trying to get 20 percent more to build raised garden beds (to function as a riverbank) and storm gates between the property and the ocean to protect the complex when the next storm hits. A common refrain at properties like Shore View is that this is a matter of when, not if, the next devastating storm will hit.


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