The many businesses and organizations affected by Superstorm Sandy can find help in the form of numerous disaster relief programs available from the federal and New York State governments as well as from New York City agencies and temporary centers. These programs can help provide valuable and timely resources to Wilson Elser clients as they face new, unforeseen challenges in rebuilding their businesses in this historic storm’s aftermath.

Many of the state-level programs are available to companies headquartered throughout the United States that maintain offices or operations in New York State.

Note: As the information provided is subject to change, interested readers are encouraged to check programs for updates.

Summary of Federal Aid and Programs

  • FEMA: Programs for New York State Disaster Recovery(please note, individuals must register with FEMA prior to application for many of the additional programs and funding)

  • The United States Small Business Administration offers disaster-related loans

  • Federal Aid: Governor Cuomo has asked for disaster aid from the federal government. The amount of this request was calculated using cost estimates that included: $3.5 billion to repair the region’s bridges, tunnels and subway and commuter rail lines; $1.65 billion to rebuild homes and apartment buildings; $1 billion to reimburse local governments for overtime costs of police, fire and other emergency personnel; and several billion dollars in federal loans and grants to affected businesses.

  • Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA): DUA benefits are available to anyone who is unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster.  These benefits are currently being offered to affected parties who live or work in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties. This assistance will supplement New York’s existing unemployment insurance system and will expand eligibility to include individuals who might not otherwise be covered.

  • IRS tax-relief measures: Individuals and businesses located in federally declared disaster areas can postpone gains on reimbursement by four years for homes and two years for business property. Casualty losses can also be deducted against income in the prior tax year, and certain disaster relief grants are not taxable. The IRS is also postponing various tax filing and payment deadlines starting in late October, giving affected taxpayers until February 1, 2013, to file these returns and pay any taxes due. The postponed deadlines include payroll and excise tax returns and accompanying payments for the third and fourth quarters.

  • FEMA Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Program: The STEP program provides contractors to perform repair work in homes damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Repairs include patching windows or exterior doors, placing tarp on roofs, minor electrical work and necessary inspections for habitability. These services allow homeowners to safely return to their houses while other, more permanent repairs are being made. Individuals can then use traditional FEMA assistance to make permanent repairs.

Summary of New York State Aid and Programs

  • National Emergency Grant (NEG): New York has received $27,792,296 in NEG funds; this funding will be used to hire workers who lost their jobs as a direct result of Sandy in Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties to help clean up impacted communities.
    • To be eligible, workers must be unemployed as a result of Sandy or unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits or other types of income support.
    • Interested parties should call 888.4.NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365) or visit the New York State Department of Labor website.
  • Empire State Relief Fund: This organization provides funding, materials and services to help New Yorkers return to their homes and recover from the storm. The fund is aimed at diminishing the gap between the cost of repair or replacement of homes damaged by Sandy and the funds available to them to cover this cost.

  • New York State Department of Labor Shared Work Program: This program provides support to businesses seeking layoff alternatives in the wake of Sandy. The program allows businesses to reduce employee hours instead of cutting staff so that businesses can gear up quickly when conditions improve. For more information, call 518.457.5807.

  • Small Business Emergency Loan Fund: The New York Bankers Association (NYBA) and the New York Business Development Corporation (NYBDC) have agreed to establish a $10 million small business emergency loan fund to provide immediate assistance to businesses impacted by Sandy. Eligible businesses (independently owned and operated businesses with fewer than 100 employees and located in one of the counties that has been designated a disaster area) can receive up to $25,000 in loans that are interest- and payment-free for the first six months and then at the rate of 1 percent interest for the following two years.

Long Island Aid and Programs

  • Small Business Assistance Recovery Centers: Suffolk County businesses can visit these Recovery Centers for access to computers, printers and fax machines as well as counseling services. Centers have been established by the County Department of Labor in Hauppauge and Riverhead.

  • Working Capital and Fixed-Asset Loans: Loans are available for small businesses in Nassau and Suffolk counties through New York State’s Targeted Industries Revolving Loan Fund. Contact the Empire State Development regional office at 631.435.0717 for more information.

  • Sales Tax Exemption: Businesses in Nassau County can apply for a sales tax exemption on expenditures related to recovering from Sandy. The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, through its Local Enterprise Assistance and Development Services (LEADS) program, will grant businesses a sales tax exemption letter on furniture, fixtures, equipment, capital improvements and renovations as they recover from Sandy.

NYC Aid and Programs

  • New York City Business Assistance Programs
    • Small to mid-sized businesses that have experienced business interruption can apply for emergency loans patterned after similar programs deployed in past emergencies. Loans to be capped at $10,000.
    • Mid- to large-sized businesses that need to undertake rebuilding can apply for an emergency sales tax letter from the NYC Industrial Development Agency (IDA) that will allow them to avoid payment of NYC and NYS sales taxes on materials purchased for rebuilding. IDA will also waive all fees and, while following state law, look to streamline its normal procedure. This program is expected to offer economic benefits for reconstruction projects costing $500,000 or more. For further information contact Shin Mitsugi at smitsugi@nycedc.com.
    • Any business that is temporarily displaced from its space can apply for short-term “swing” office space at Brooklyn Army Terminal free of charge for a period of time. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has approximately 40,000 square feet of warehouse space at the terminal that can be used for this purpose.
    • The SBS Business Outreach Team and Emergency Response Unit’s Large Scale Response Team will be deployed to help all impacted small businesses in need of other emergency assistance. 
  • New York City Department of Small Business Services working capital loans: Loans in amounts up to $25,000 will be available on an expedited application basis to help cover the cost of storm damage repairs. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 100 employees, filed 2011 business tax returns, and experienced business interruption and/or damages as a result of Sandy. For more information, call 311 and ask for information about the NYC Business Emergency Loan.

  • NYC One-Stop Restoration Centers: Mayor Bloomberg launched NYC Restore, an initiative under which seven one-stop restoration centers have been set up to help residents and businesses impacted by Sandy with financial, health, environmental, nutritional and residential services, as well as Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) reimbursement processing. The Centers will provide the following types of assistance: NYC Rapid Repairs (sends teams of contractors and city inspectors to neighborhoods to quickly repair damaged homes; food and nutrition assistance; temporary housing information; health and medical benefits; business restoration; counseling services; financial assistance; personal records; and information.

  • NYC Nonprofit Recovery Loan Program: This includes a $26 million bridge loan program, pro-bono legal assistance dedicated to nonprofits, briefings regarding federal reimbursements and filing procedures, updated nonprofit assistance information on NYC.gov and support for nonprofits at the Restoration Centers. Interest-free loans will be provided ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 to New York City nonprofits impacted by Sandy and will cover losses associated with the disruption of operations and property damage.

  • NYC Businesses Matching Grants: Mayor Bloomberg has made $5.5 million in matching grants available for New York City businesses most impacted by Sandy. This program will be administered by the New York Business Development Corporation; the grants are designed to provide additional financial assistance for local businesses already seeking low-interest loans through the existing Emergency Loan Fund.

  • Hurricane Emergency Sales Tax Exemption Program (HESTEP): The New York City Industrial Development Agency will provide emergency assistance to small businesses through HESTEP, a program that provides sales tax exemptions of up to $100,000 for each affected company on purchases of building, construction and renovation materials; machinery and equipment; and other items of personal property and related services needed to rebuild after the storm. All businesses with storm-related physical damages are eligible, with priority given to industrial businesses located within Flood Zone A and the area of New York City impacted by an extensive power outage as a direct result of Sandy.

Cutting Through the Red TapeWilson Elser’s Government Affairs practice is well equipped to help our clients affected by the storm obtain the state and federal services and resources to which they may be entitled. We can provide assistance in addressing both immediate and longer-term needs while providing necessary experience in guiding clients through the elaborate processes and complex issues that often accompany access to government assistance programs.