Update: HGAR’s Relief Effort Providing Much Needed Assistance to Flood Victims in Hudson Valley
John Jordan | August 24, 2023
GOSHEN—The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors was one of the first private organizations to provide much-needed financial assistance to homeowners in the flood-ravaged Highlands/West Point area and other sections of the Hudson Valley region that suffered significant damage from the devastating heavy rains on July 9-10.
The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors applied for and was approved for $500,000 in funding from the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Relief Foundation to provide critical funds to Realtor members and residents throughout the Hudson Valley that were impacted by the flash flooding that damaged homes, washed out roads and bridges and knocked out power in a number of areas in Orange, Rockland, Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties. The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors announced the Realtors Relief Foundation award and funding availability at a press conference at HGAR’s Regional Office in Goshen on Aug. 8.
HGAR Acting CEO and Chief Operating Officer Jana Currier told Real Estate In-Depth on Aug. 18 that since the association began processing Relief Foundation applications on Aug. 1, HGAR had reviewed and approved 26 applications for households impacted by the July 9-10 flood. The total amount approved to be disbursed thus far was $82,000 and 13 checks will or have been delivered by the weekend of Aug. 18-20 to residents in the Hudson Valley, she added.
Each household affected by the disaster is eligible for up to $2,000 towards mortgage, rent, or hotel expenses due to displacement. Orange County was initially declared a State Disaster Emergency by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, as the Town of Highlands suffered severe damage. Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester were later added to the list, along with several other upstate counties. To be eligible, recipients must be full-time residents in the affected areas and either a U.S. citizen or legally admitted for residence in the U.S. Currier said that it takes about four weeks from funding application to funding award.
“Realtors don’t just live and work in our communities—we give back to them. As a Realtor, I am proud of what our Realtors Relief Foundation has done over the last 21 years to help restore and rebuild communities across the United States that have been devastated by disasters,” said HGAR President Tony D’Anzica. “The Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors has been a long-time contributor to the foundation and we are grateful to have the foundation’s support now that our own communities are in need. We want the members of the communities we serve to know that, in more ways than they might realize, our Realtor family works every day to help them.”
D’Anzica singled out Currier, the HGAR’s Relief Assistance Team and other HGAR staff, as well as all contributors to the Realtors Relief Foundation in making the humanitarian campaign possible.
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus at the Aug. 8 press conference singled out HGAR for its past and current assistance in times of need. “Yet, again you guys have come and delivered for our community and the Hudson Valley,” he said. “I remember during the doldrum days of the (COVID) pandemic when everybody went underground, this association stepped up and came to the 911 Center and helped us with emergency PPE that we needed to get out to our first responders.”
He characterized the flood damage in the Highlands/Highland Falls, West Point, Woodbury, Cornwall as well as in locations on the eastern side of the Hudson was “devastating.” Neuhaus noted that while the federal and state governments are helping repair damaged infrastructure, the NAR Realtor Relief Foundation funding will be critical.
“People really need this boost. So, I am really grateful for you guys stepping up,” the County Executive said. “This is not something that happens all the time. We don’t have a million organizations that are constantly giving back. You guys are really at the top of the hill and are getting it done.”
Another speaker at the Aug. 8th HGAR press conference was New York State Senator James Skoufis (D-42nd District) of Cornwall, who discussed his long-standing relationship with the New York State Association of Realtors and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, first as a State Assemblyman and now in the State Senate.
Terming the Realtors Relief Foundation campaign as “a big deal” in providing quick and needed assistance to impacted residents in the region, he noted, “Whenever there is a challenge on the ground here in Orange County, the Realtors are there. Whenever there is a problem legislatively that their members are dealing with and that they are seeing in their communities, they come to Albany, they are there and we work with them.
Sen. Skoufis continued, “So, it is no surprise to me that yet again, the Realtors are stepping up in a big way to help our neighbors here in Orange County.”
Both Town of Highlands Supervisor Bob Livsey and Highland Falls Deputy Mayor Jim DiSalvo described the devastation caused by the flash flooding in their communities and expressed their appreciation to HGAR for facilitating the much-needed Realtor Relief Foundation funding. “I very much appreciate the assistance from HGAR,” stated Highland Falls Mayor Joseph D’Onofrio. “It is so much needed, with folks being displaced from their homes and hundreds of others in need.”
Deborah Waters, a Realtor with Howard Hanna|Rand Realty and a resident of Highland Falls who attended the HGAR press conference, told Real Estate In-Depth of the devastation she witnessed in the Highland Falls/Fort Montgomery area on July 9.
“It was devastating to the extent that we don’t have flood insurance, we don’t have the extra money to do repairs on our houses,” she said. “We can’t even get anyone to our town to do repairs.” Waters noted that at the time all roads leading to Highland Falls were closed due to flood damage. Since then, the community is no longer cut off and is accessible.
She said some homes look habitable at first glance, but in fact their foundations have been heavily damaged or washed away entirely. Waters said that some Highland Falls residents were living in homes that will most likely be condemned because they had no other place to go.
Waters, a member of the HGAR’s Relief Assistance Team, said, “This is, so far, the only organization that is actually giving them (affected homeowners and renters) money.”
HGAR officials explained that residents in the affected areas who sustained flood damage may apply for one of the following options:
• Monthly mortgage expense for the primary residence that was affected.
• Rental cost due to displacement from the primary residence.
• Hotel reimbursement due to displacement from primary residence.
Financial assistance is awarded for housing only. Second mortgages, home equity loans, clothing, appliances, equipment or vehicle purchase, rental or repair are not eligible under this program.
All applicants will be required to submit photo IDs to show proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or other documentation, as well as a copy of the mortgage statement, lease agreement or hotel receipt. In addition, photos of damages, insurance estimates, claim status reports or copies of repair estimates must also be submitted as proof of damage to the primary residence.
For more information on how to apply for these grants, please visit www.hgar.com/realtors-relief-foundation. (application submission deadline is October 15, 2023)
NAR’s Realtor Relief Foundation dates back to 2001 following the September 11 terrorist attacks. NAR’s Executive Leadership team launched the program to secure contributions to help those who were impacted. Since that time, they have been providing housing assistance relief to victims of natural disasters throughout the nation. The foundation has awarded more than $40 million in total, funding 100 disaster recoveries in 43 states, and helping more than 20,000 families.
From left, HGAR Interim CEO and COO Jana Currier, Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus; HGAR President Tony D’Anzica; Alexander Roithmayr, HGAR Director of Government Affairs and HGAR Regional Director-Orange County, Carole McCann.
WABC Channel 7 reporter Marcus Solis interviews HGAR President Tony D’Anzica about the Realtors Relief Foundation funding effort.
Town of Highlands Supervisor Bob Livsey
Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus
New York State Senator James Skoufis
Highland Falls Deputy Mayor James DiSalvo
PHOTOS BY JOHN VECCHIOLLA