FEMA tells assisted living residents to pay back Hurricane Sandy aid

Share this content:

Residents of a New York City assisted living center recently received letters from the Federal Emergency Management Agency demanding they repay thousands of dollars in Hurricane Sandy aid.

The money was meant to cover temporary housing but was not needed for this purpose because the residents were evacuated from their flooded building to a state-funded facility, according to FEMA. Some of the residents say FEMA representatives encouraged them to apply for the aid, which was spent on food and clothing.

“If I wasn't eligible, then why give it to me in the first place?” 61-year-old resident Robert Rosenberg told CBS New York/The Associated Press. “They knew we were living in an adult home. They knew our shelter was being paid for by the state. It's not like we lied on the application.”

Rosenberg reportedly has been told that he owes more than $2,400, and he said that the federal agency has threatened to garnish his Social Security income. Collectively, the residents have been asked to repay more than $108,000.

A legal aid group is helping residents file appeals, according to local ABC affiliate WABC.

FEMA has said that it is obligated by law to collect improper payments and that the residents can request a compromise or establish a payment plan, in addition to filing an appeal.