Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D'Esposito was joined by residents from ravaged communities to make the plea, saying that homeowners, architects and builders are facing an unrealistic and unreasonable deadline.
"I never to this day thought that the state of New York and Long Island would take this long to recover under this amount of red tape," said Michelle Insinga, of the South Shore Recovery Coalition. "Please come to Long Island and see our folks. See what's really happening. Step foot here."
The state, through a program called New York Rising, is trying to help people elevate their homes to meet flood standards after Sandy devastated much the coastline.
They have until June 30 to turn in documents to the state, indicating that an application for home elevation has been submitted to affected homeowners' local municipal building departments.
"That type of deadline is unfair, unreasonable and, quite frankly, heartless," D'Esposito said. "Architects are overwhelmed with work to help homeowners, who are scurrying to meet the deadline."
Absent the documentation, flood victims' homes must be elevated by September 1, which they say is a wholly unreasonable expectation.
"What they've lost sight of is the realities on the ground," legislator Steven Rhoads said. "With the approaching September 1 deadline, there isn't an opportunity to be able to get plans submitted, to be able to get permits approved, and to simply be able to find a contractor who is going to be able to raise your home in time."
They cited industry officials and architects being overwhelmed with work, claiming homeowners are confronted with the prospect of losing tens of thousands of dollars in reimbursement as a result.
UPDATE: The Governor's Office tells Eyewitness News that the September 1 deadline has already been extended to June of 2018. Additionally, the spokesperson said the following regarding the June 30 deadline:
We have more than 11,000 participants in the NY rising program, almost 7,000 of whom have completed their work. The deadline refers to the people who are in the OPTIONAL elevation program - there are a total of 2,200 people in that program, some of whom have yet to report on their progress. We want them to let us know if they are underway with their elevations. We have always worked one on one with program applicants and will continue to do so. We are simply asking homeowners in the optional elevation program to show that they are actively pursuing optional elevation by submitting one of the following documents by June 30, 2017.
--A permit from your building department to commence elevation;
--A receipt from your building department documenting your application for an elevation permit; or
--The latest correspondence from your building department evidencing the submission of your elevation permit application.
We understand that some homeowners have had issues with local building departments issuing permits, which is why we have offered resources to some of the most impacted buildings departments to expedite the permitting process.