More than $50 million was raised through the star-studded 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief held in December at Madison Square Garden. But where has that money gone?
The Robin Hood Relief Fund, a foundation that has been helping New Yorkers since 1988, is charged with deciding how the pot is divided. The pool they are working with is actually around $65 million though, because Robin Hood raised an additional $15 million before Bruce Springsteen even stepped on stage.
As of late January, $29.8 million has been doled out with about $4.13 million going to groups helping superstorm Sandy victims on Long Island, Patty Smith, spokeswoman for the Robin Hood, told Patch.
“Our aim is to get 95 percent of the money from the Robin Hood Relief Fund granted no later than March 31,” stated David Saltzman, executive director of Robin Hood. “We will continue to do our best to get the money out the door as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
In the initial aftermath of the storm, Robin Hood was focusing on funding groups providing food, water, blankets, flashlights and other “emergent needs.” It granted $110,000 to Long Beach Christmas Angel Inc. for emergency relief, $50,000 to Long Beach MLK to provide hot meals for 150 seniors living in public housing for six months, and $40K to Feel Better Kids, of Rockville Centre, to provide clothing, blankets, medical supplies and transportation to doctors’ visits.
Most of the money being distributed now is going toward housing-related programs designed to help people safely get back into their homes or move into transitional housing.
The latest round of grants issued on Jan. 25 includes $60,000 for the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, which was awarded a contract to operate the FEMA STEP program on behalf of Suffolk County. It provides temporary repairs so residents can return to their homes while making more permanent fixes. To date, the program has overseen nearly 500 assessments and completed 130 repairs. This grant will go toward purchasing building equipment and cleaning supplies, and support a full-time case manager for rebuilding, construction management, mold remediation, mortgage and insurance issues.
Robin Hood also granted $65,000 to Vision Long Island to fund materials and supplies required for demolition, debris removal, and rebuilding 26 homes in Freeport, Lindenhurst and Mastic Beach.
Another Long Island group, the Disability Opportunity Fund, was approved for $130,000, which will provide technical assistance for people seeking disability-accessible housing, financial and legal support related to relocation, and “gap financing” for 50 to 75 families.
Long Island Cares, which submitted its application to Robin Hood days after the Dec. 12 benefit concert, received approval in early January for a $155,000 grant. The organization plans to use the funds to pay for the South Shore service center it's opening in Lindenhurst on March 1. Like the center LIC operates in Freeport, the store, which will be located at 163 N. Wellwood Ave., will be a place for Sandy victims in Lindenhurst, Babylon, Amityville, Copiague and surrounding areas to get food, heaters, blankets, cleaning materials and other supplies free of charge.
The grant will also cover costs associated with the new mobile outreach unit LIC recently purchased. It will be deployed, based on appointments, to homes throughout Suffolk to provide assessments and supplies to families unable to travel to the Lindenhurst center. The organization also plans to hire two full-time staff, allowing it to expand the hours at the service centers.
Although Robin Hood can not issue a grant to an individual, some of the groups they are funding are providing emergency cash assistance to people in need. For instance, LIC will be distributing $1,000 reimbursements to 50 families who had to replace necessary appliances in their homes.
"This [grant] has been so, so significant in helping us move forward in helping people recover," Paul Pachter, executive director of Long Island Cares, told Patch.
The Long Island Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster's (LIVOAD) Long-Term Recovery Group was awarded one of the largest grants, $1 million, which will provide emergency financial assistance to meet the "unmet needs ... of the most vulnerable" Sandy victims.
Gwen O'Shea, president/CEO of the Health & Welfare Council of Long Island, which operates LIVOAD, said the money from Robin Hood will be distributed to households with incomes of up to 250 percent above the federal poverty level. A family of four making less than $47,000 would qualify, for instance.
"It's incredible," O'Shea told Patch."I have to commend Robin Hood on its commitment to doing something for the region and targeting those most at risk." Historically, Robin Hood has only served the Five Boroughs, but, O'Shea says, "they understood the regional impact of the storm ... and had the flexibility, wherewithal and dedication to expand their service area."
Approximately 40 disaster case managers deployed throughout Long Island are working closely with Sandy victims to devise personalized recovery plans, and will be the ones to apply for this financial assistance on their behalf. (To schedule an appointment with a case manager, dial 211.)
Through a partnership with United Way, the Recovery Group has also received commitments from other donors, so it will be able to provide financial assistance for households meeting the "self sufficiency standard," which is an income no greater than $90,000 for a family of four.
The Long Beach Jewish Community Assistance Program will be getting a $150,000 grant from Robin Hood, which will ensure at least 15-20 additional households secure the essential cash they need for home repairs and related urgent expenses. Robin Hood also awarded $150,000 to the Young Families of Island Park to provide 150 families with $1,000 in gift cards, and payments for temporary housing and reconstruction. And Our Holy Redeemer, Freeport’s largest church, received a $50,000 grant to help affected families purchase furniture and household supplies, and cover security deposits and/or first month’s rent for those who need to move.
Long Island’s Hispanic Brotherhood will use the $100,000 it received to provide cash assistance for critical needs including rent, utilities, food and medicine, and to hire staff specializing in relief assistance. Robin Hood also awarded $200,000 to the Achiezer Community Resource Center of Rockaway and Long Island to hire additional social workers, $50,000 to the YMCA of Long Island, and $60,000 to the Long Beach Latino Civic Association.
To receive a grant from Robin Hood, organizations do not need to have 501c3 status, and yes, there is still time to apply. To fill out an application or to make a donation to the fund, visit robinhood.org/rhsandy.