The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced today that over $160 million dollars in grants has been approved and over 38,000 applications have been received through LMDC’s Residential Grant Program. The program, which was instituted in June 2002, provides assistance to residents who lived downtown on September 11, 2001 and continue to reside in Lower Manhattan, as well as offering financial incentives to new residents who make a two-year commitment to live downtown.
Current residents eligible for the September 11th grant must begin the application process by Saturday May 31, 2003 by visiting LMDC’s website www.renewnyc.org, calling the Residential Grant Application hotline at 1-866 RenewNY (1-866-736-3969), or by visiting one of the Community Offices located in Chinatown and Tribeca. Residents applying for a two-year commitment based grant or a family grant must have signed a lease with a commencement date on or prior to May 31 and submit the application by May 31.
New York State Governor George E. Pataki said, "As we continue to stand with our neighbors in Lower Manhattan through the rebuilding effort, we must ensure that this community remains an attractive place to live and raise a family. The Residential Grant Program helps ensure that the residential community is the foundation upon which the future of Lower Manhattan will be built.”
New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg said, "We've had marvelous success stabilizing the residential community in Lower Manhattan through the LMDC's residential grant program and we want to make sure it continues. I would like to thank HUD, the Governor and the Board of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for working together to provide residents with an incentive to remain downtown and continue to be a part of Lower Manhattan's bright future."
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Chairman, John C. Whitehead said, “The Residential Grant Program has helped encourage families to make a home in this vital area of our city.”
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Interim President Kevin M. Rampe said, "The Lower Manhattan Develpment Corporation is committed to downtown residents. LMDC understands that the success of the rebuilding and revitalization effort is dependent on a thriving community base. We have made tremendous efforts to ensure that all eligible residents know about and take advantage of the grant program.”
The $281 million allocated for the Residential Grant Program is part of a $2 billion grant from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Program. The program establishes three zones of eligibility and offers three types of grants to owners and renters living south of Delancey and Kenmare Streets: the September 11, 2001 Residents Grant, the Family Grant, and the Two-Year Commitment-Based Grant. Funds are distributed based on proximity to Ground Zero and on the condition that residential buildings meet certain health, safety and habitability codes.
The September 11, 2001 Residents Grant is a one time $1,000 grant available to each housing unit whose residents lived in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001, and continue to be on-going residents in any of the three zones. The Family Grant, a one time grant of $1,500 or $750 depending on location, is available to housing units with children under the age of 18 that make a one-year commitment to living in lower Manhattan. The Two-Year Commitment-Based Grant is available to residents, per apartment, that make at least a two-year commitment to living in lower Manhattan. Under the program guidelines, Zone 1 is eligible for 30% of the monthly rent (or mortgage payments, plus maintenance costs and real estate and related taxes for owner occupied units), up to $12,000 over two years. And Zone 2 is eligible for 30% of the monthly rent (or mortgage payments, plus maintenance costs and real estate and related taxes for owner-occupied units), up to $6,000 over two years.
In order for residents to receive grants, their buildings must be free from hazardous living conditions. To verify building conditions and determine eligibility, the LMDC worked with New York City’s Department of Buildings, Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Department of City Planning, Department of Finance, and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, to create a comprehensive database matching applications in all three zones with the buildings’ legal residential and health status conformity.
Working with city agencies and the New York City Fire Department, LMDC categorized the health, safety and habitability criteria of each building into two levels: Level I and Level II. Residents living in buildings with Level I violations, Hazardous Violations and Vacate Orders from the FDNY, and Unsafe Building Conditions and Emergency Declarations from the Department of Buildings, are not eligible to receive grants until the violation has been cleared. In buildings with Level II violations, Hazardous Violations issued from the Department of Buildings, new residents – anyone who has purchased or rented an apartment on or after November 1, 2002 – will not be eligible to receive grants until the violation has been cleared.
To date, over 90 buildings in Lower Manhattan have cleared hazardous violations due to the initiation of the Residential Grant Program. Working with the LMDC, FDNY and city agencies, over 60 buildings have cleared Level I Fire Department Hazardous Violations or Vacate Orders, and 30 buildings have cleared Level I and Level II Department of Buildings Vacate Orders, Emergency Declarations, or Hazardous Building Violations.
Another measure put in place to ensure that only fully eligible applicants receive grants under the Residential Grant Program was the LMDC’s Fraud Prevention Program. LMDC hired a Compliance Auditor and investigative team to coordinate all fraud initiatives, including the fraud prevention hotline, 1 (866) 830-9130. To date, the LMDC compliance team has investigated and prevented a number of fraudulent applications from proceeding. Its efforts have also resulted in two arrests. One of those arrests recently pled guilty to Federal Theft Charges on May 29, 2003 and awaits sentencing on September 30, 2003. He is expected to spend up to six months in jail and pay a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
The LMDC has conducted an ongoing community outreach campaign to ensure the success of the Residential Grant Program. Since the program’s inception, the LMDC has placed targeted advertising in local and community newspapers, subways, bus stops and phone kiosks; organized mobile application teams to visit all residential buildings in Lower Manhattan; and sponsored a community outreach day in April. In turn, more than 80% of all eligible applicants have submitted applications.
The program has been successful in encouraging existing residents to make a two-year commitment to Lower Manhattan and in bringing new residents to the areas that suffered large vacancy rates after September 11, 2001. Over 90% of the approved applicants in Zones 1 and 2 have made a two-year commitment to Lower Manhattan. More than 56% of Zone 1 applicants have identified themselves as new residents.
Lower Manhattan is comprised of many diverse neighborhoods. Over two-thirds of the approved applicants are low- or moderate-income individuals and families. Over one-fifth of the approved applicants are families.
In an effort to ensure that everyone who lived in the area on September 11, 2001 and remains receives the September 11, 2001 grants, LMDC recently issued additional guidelines for tenants who have not been able to obtain leases or notarized letters from their landlords.