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One of the few guaranteed methods for lowering increasingly expensive homeowner flood insurance is to elevate homes, but there is little public funding to help pay for the costly retrofits.

But in a much-praised move, the State has announced a $7.5 million pilot program that will elevate homes owned by lower- and middle-income families in low-lying areas of Staten Island and Gerritsen Beach and Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, completely free of charge. The deadline to pre-apply is May 15, 2016.

Eligible homeowners must not have received elevation funds from other programs; they must live in the 100-year floodplain; and they must be able show their homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy but still habitable.

To learn more about whether you’re in the floodplain, your flood risk and about flood insurance rates, go to FloodHelpNY.org

The primary goal of Project UPLIFT is to safeguard homes in surge-vulnerable neighborhoods from future storms. But elevating homes will also save families tens of thousands of dollars in flood insurance. Homeowners are seeing increases in their flood insurance payments of between 5 and 25% this year alone. Those rate increases have become a financial burden to the tens of thousands of low- and middle-income families who live along the 520 miles of New York City waterfront.

Even more alarming, for the first time this year, homeowners who have allowed their flood insurance policies to lapse more than 90 days will have to reinstate them at the higher full-risk rate, which will likely mean paying out thousands of dollars more to cover their homes.

Follow this link to apply for the program: Project UPLIFT