Seek Federal Aid To Fight Fungus
Sen. Charles E. Schumer called on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to begin immediately drawing up plans to help homeowners to secure federal aid to remove mold from their homes, once funding from a Hurricane Sandy aid bill becomes available.
Under current law, resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) cannot be used to remove mold from a house, even if that mold is making the house unlivable. The Sandy aid package currently working its way through Congress could provide funds that can be used for mold remediation, but there needs to be a plan in place to make sure those funds can get to homeowners immediately.
“Mold is causing a second wave of destruction among Superstorm Sandy victims, rendering houses unhealthy and unlivable even after the water has been pumped out,” said Schumer. “Hopefully help is on the way in the form of a Sandy aid bill working its way through Congress, and we want the federal agencies working with county officials-to map a plan out now-so that help can reach Long Island homeowners as soon as the legislation is passed.”
Mold exposure can cause serious health problems such as: respiratory problems, nasal and sinus congestion, eye irritation, nose irritation, throat irritation, skin irritation, headaches, and mood changes. Mold infestation is a common consequence of heavy flooding. After Hurricane Sandy, at least 300,000 homes in New York alone suffered significant damage, mostly from flooding.
While repairs for mold infestation for private homes and businesses are ineligible for individuals and households assistance provided by FEMA, mold remediation has been addressed in the past. After Hurricane Katrina, Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding was used to address mold remediation in local communities.
Schumer explained that although FEMA funding cannot be used to remove mold from a house, the Sandy Aid Relief package could provide funds for mold remediation.
He added that HUD should work with localities throughout New York to establish a framework for how mold remediation programs can be structured with the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding so that funds can be distributed to homeowners immediately.