New York City is beginning a $15 million program to clean up at least 2,000 homes that became contaminated with mold after they flooded during Superstorm Sandy.
The program, paid for with private donations, comes following months of desperate pleas from storm victims and advocacy groups, who said mold had become a nightmare for many homeowners in flood-ravaged parts of the city.
People enrolled in the program will be able to get their homes treated for mold at no cost by either private contractors or trained volunteers.
Money for the project is being put up by three charities: The American Red Cross, the Robin Hood Foundation and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City.
No federal, state or city tax dollars are involved. The work is being overseen by a nonprofit development company, Neighborhood Revitalization NYC, which is an affiliate of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
The Mayor's Fund, which supports city programs with private donations, will also be running mold treatment workshops and distributing thousands of mold-remediation kits for homeowners who aren't accepted into the program.
The cost of properly removing mold from a flooded home can be substantial, and unlike other types of damage, the Federal Emergency Management Agency doesn't provide direct assistance for mold problems.
New York City and FEMA also have been operating a massive program to restore heat, hot water and power to damaged homes for free, but that federally funded program did not include mold removal.