Since the Village of Lindenhurst Relief Fund launched to help residents affected by Hurricane Sandy, a little more than $71,000 has been collected.
And now the Village has entered into an agreement with the United Way to begin to distribute those funds - all of which have been donated by various organizations, Village Administrator Shawn Cullinane told Lindenhurst Patch at the most recent Village Board meeting.
To ensure proper distribution of the funds to Lindenhurst Sandy victims in need, the Village wanted to give the responsibility to a recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization - especially since the Village is a municipality and is prohibited by NYS law from giving money to residents directly.
"It's against the New York state constitution to give money, whether it's to help or not," Cullinane explained when the Fund was started "separately by the Village" last Fall following the October 29 superstorm as "a special revenue and not part of the budget."
Theresa Regnante, president and CEO of United Way of Long Island, recently told Newsday.com the Lindenhurst fund is one of several - totaling more than $1.5 million - that the organization plans to distribute to Sandy victims in collaboration with the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.
With regard to the Lindenhurst fund specifically, "we gave the United Way criteria," Cullinane noted at last week's meeting.
"The money has to go to Lindenhurst residents. It has to go to an individual or family with a particular unmitigated need who don't have FEMA or insurance money to cover it," he explained.
The United Way of LI is targeting households that earn $90,000 a year or less, Regnante further explained in the report, adding the money is intended for those with "an array of needs that a homeowner might have" ranging from paying utility bills to buying a new oil burner.
The amount given out will vary, according to the United Way of LI, but Lindenhurst has asked its funds to be limited to $2,500 per household. Regnante said in the report residents could receive money from more than one fund the organization manages.
Lindenhurst Sandy victims could pick up application information - not applications - at the Village Hall, and must apply through the United Way, Cullinane said.
The application will be given a case number, and those applying for assistance will work with a disaster case manager who'll bring the case before an "unmet needs roundtable," to discuss a course of action, Regnante said in the report.
Cullinane spoke with Patch on Friday to clarify the process, which is outlined in the application information at Village Hall. He said residents applying for the money from the Fund must sign up with the United Way, and it'll direct them through the process of obtaining a case manager through one of the non-profit organization's partnerships.
From there the process for reviewing their claims should work rather quickly, he said on Friday.
Regnante noted in the report the goal is to work quickly to help residents and - within 48 hours after the roundtable meets - the money will be directly paid to vendors.
As the application process gets underway, donations to the VOL Relief Fund will continue to be accepted, he noted.
Those organizations and individuals wishing to make a donation to the Fund could do so securely online at www.VillageofLindenhurst.com/relief.htm, according to Village officials.
Check donations could also be mailed to Village of Lindenhurst Relief Fund, 430 South Wellwood Avenue, Lindenhurst, NY 11757.
Residents could call Village Hall at 631-957-7500 with questions and for more information.
Questions could also be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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