FEMA is asking 1,000 Sandy victims to return money that was overpaid to them. National and local politicians are trying to stop Federal Emergency Management Agency officials from demanding residents pay back $23.4 million in financial assistance awarded to superstorm Sandy victims.
FEMA sent a letter to people claiming there had been a duplication of funds that needs to be paid back. The letter stated that of the $1.4 billion paid to Sandy victims, only 2 percent was paid in error.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, FEMA wants payback because mistakes were made, but lawmakers said the burden shouldn’t fall on the recipients.
One resident said, “I sent in the forms. They sent me a check. I cashed the check. I gave it to the people to rebuild my house and now they want the money back,” said Alan Overstein of Cedarhurst.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Ed Schaefer added.
Two years after he was flooded by Sandy, Schaefer said FEMA told him he owed them money.
“Thirteen-thousand dollars at $225 a month,” Schaefer said.
Reps. Kathleen Rice and Gregory Meeks joined homeowners in Long Beach, where they said they want the unfair debts to be forgiven.
Rice and Meeks are sponsoring legislation to allow FEMA to forgive debts owed by storm victims, instead of what they call trying to “clawback” the overpaid money, Gusoff reported.
“If you don’t pay by a certain date, you will then receive additional finance charges, you receive penalties,” Meeks said. “That’s just something that’s not the right thing to do and should not be happening.”
Members of Congress are asking the agency to postpone collecting the debts until lawmakers can act on the proposal, which could happen quickly with bi-partisan support.
“We want to do everything we can to continue to work with Congress and make sure we provide needed assistance, while at the same time remaining good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” FEMA spokesman Rafael Lemaitre said.
Read the full story at CBS New York
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