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Sandy relief money is reportedly being kept under lock and key.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a preliminary report on Wednesday, July 17 detailing how charities have spent more than half a billion dollars of Sandy donations. At least $238 million of the more than $575 million had not been spent as of April of this year, according to the report.

“All one needs to do is look around Breezy Point to realize what a travesty [this] is,” said Arthur Lighthall, president of the Breezy Point Cooperative.

Councilmember Eric Ulrich echoed Lighthall, saying “sitting on this money while so many people are still in need is an insult.”

The report also asks whether some of the funds reportedly spent on Sandy were actually used for non-storm-related purposes.

“We have a responsibility to the people who donated their hard-earned money to help our community rebuild to make sure that the contributions they made were used as advertised,” Schneiderman said.

The Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, which regulates all state charities, reviewed the Sandy contributions and found that 58 percent of donations had gone to storm relief efforts; 17 organizations reported potentially using funds for non-Sandy purposes such as preventing future disasters; and responding organizations granted half of the $336 million they had received to other organizations.

“This funding is urgently needed and we cannot accept that charitable donations are not being spent as intended,” Ulrich said.

Schneiderman’s Charities Bureau is heightening its review of Sandy fundraising and seeking more detailed answers from the responding charities, including a clearer account of how money has been spent and plans for remaining funds.

“My constituents are not assisted by monies collected for victims of Sandy that are not distributed,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “These funds are useless unless given to those who [are] truly in need.”

 

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