"For many of the Staten Islanders living along the coast, looking at the requirements on new flood maps may leave them with a tremendous question they are not sure how to begin answering," reports the Staten Island Advance: "How can I afford to raise my home so many feet off the ground?"
Daunted by the cost of elevating an existing home, residents of the New York borough are wondering whether FEMA's "Increased Cost of Compliance" program, which can pay up to $30,000 of the cost of raising a house, will help, reports the Advance. And they're considering whether it makes more sense to accept a buyout of their storm-damaged homes — funded either by FEMA, or by New York State.
Staten Islanders are turning to the lessons drawn from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where a variety of government programs sprung up to fund home elevation work and buyouts ("On Staten Island as in New Orleans, nowhere to go but up," by Jillian Jorgensen). But those programs ran into trouble, the Advance notes. In many cases, people accepted the government payouts, but didn't improve the homes (or release the title to someone else who might). Says the paper: "In 2010, a report from the HUD Inspector General noted that 80 percent of those who received those $30,000 Road Home elevation grants had not elevated their home — despite signing a contract promising to do so when they accepted the money."