Governor Directs State Agencies to Prioritize Rebuilding Projects and Accelerate Permitting
Albany, NY (July 31, 2013)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced action through the federal Community Reinvestment Act to spur more than $3 billion in private investment to finance more resilient infrastructure and other projects in storm-impacted communities participating in the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. Governor Cuomo also directed several state agencies to provide special support for community rebuilding plans produced through the New York Rising Program.
As part of today’s announcement, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) is directing private financial institutions that the loans they make to support storm recovery efforts will be eligible for Community Reinvestment Act credit. That incentive is expected to help spur an estimated $3.2 billion in private investment in storm-impacted communities.
“Communities across New York State have been shaken by major storms in the past few years, and we must adapt to the new norm of extreme weather,” Governor Cuomo said. “State government is doing its part to bolster the storm recovery process with actions taken by multiple agencies to expedite projects and spur upwards of $3 billion in investment from the private sector. Many families and businesses are continuing to face the challenges brought about by these storms, but together we can build our communities back stronger than ever before.”
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, “This action will help spark billions of dollars in lending and private investment in communities that were hit hard by these devastating natural disasters. We’ll continue to work in partnership with local stakeholders to rebuild these communities and help them better withstand future storms.”
Previously, funding for local plans consisted of approximately $500 million in HUD Community Development Block Grant funds. The increased investment announced today is facilitated through the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which encourages banks to serve the credit needs of their communities, particularly low- and moderate-income communities and communities rebuilding from disasters. The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), which reviews banks' performance in meeting their CRA obligations, will award priority CRA credit to projects that are included in New York Rising Community Reconstruction Plans.
DFS will also help connect banks interested in making CRA-eligible disaster area investments and loans with New York Rising Community projects in need of financing. By publicizing the New York Rising Communities planning process and hosting meetings for banks and New York Rising Community Planning Committees, this action will help spur an estimated $3 billion in private sector investments in New York Rising Communities.
The Governor has also directed the following five State agencies to provide special support for New York Rising Community plans in various respects:
- The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will work with New York Rising Community planners to determine which projects will require environmental permits, including those regarding Freshwater Wetlands, Tidal Wetlands, Protection of Waters, Coastal Erosion Hazard Areas, and Water Quality Certifications. These applications will be given priority status and expedited through the permitting process. DEC will also consider the development of general permits and/or standard activity permits if there are activities identified in the plans that are repetitive in nature and could be better managed through a standardized, expedited approach.
- Empire State Development Corporation will prioritize New York Rising Communities’ proposals targeting storm-impacted businesses through the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Assistance Program. This program provides grants to alternative lenders known as CDFIs for loan capital, loan loss reserves, technical assistance operational support, or organizational capacity building. These grants will assist New York Rising Communities in their efforts to build back their economy better than before and align it with their planned resilience measures.
- The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will prioritize and expedite New York Rising Community project applications for commercial/industrial energy efficiency projects that include resiliency measures to minimize damage from future storms. Similarly, the New York Power Authority will give preference to New York Rising Communities for a number of initiatives aimed at energy sustainability, including determining locations for public electric vehicle charging stations as part of the Charge NY program, supporting solar panel installations under the NY-Sun initiative, and prioritizing of energy efficiency projects at public buildings as part of the Build Smart NY program.
- The New York State Department of Transportation will expedite highway work permits for New York Rising Community projects. These permit applications will be given priority treatment and will be reviewed within one week of receipt, which will help move these critical projects forward.
- The Department of State will give preference to applications from New York Rising Communities for support from the Brownfield Opportunity Areas Program, to assist those with significant brownfield contamination issues that are slowing the reconstruction and recovery process. The Department will also give preference to New York Rising Community applications for funding from the Environmental Protection Fund’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, which has revitalized downtowns and local economies, created public access, improved water quality, and restored habitats. Waterfront revitalization can often go hand in hand with greater resilience measures.