Flood insurance rates in New York City are rapidly increasing. In 2016, New Yorkers who live in the flood zone saw their flood insurance rate increase by up to 18 percent—and for families whose homes were damaged during hurricanes Sandy and Irene, increases were up to 25 percent. This means hundreds of dollars out of homeowners' pockets every year, which will especially hurt the tens of thousands of low- and middle-income families living along the coastline. For New Yorkers, these rising costs are just the beginning.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in the process of updating New York City’s flood insurance rate map. The new map, when it goes into effect, may double the number of properties required to get flood insurance, reaching 400,000 people. It's an expense many families cannot afford. FloodHelpNY was designed because there was a clear need for consumer-friendly information about flood insurance and complex upcoming changes that will affect families who live in coastal communities.
The website was designed by global firm IDEO with a primary goal of serving as a platform to engage all New Yorkers on the issues of flooding, flood insurance, and resiliency. It also serves as the main conduit for connecting homeowners and multi-family building owners to free audits that assess how resilient their homes or structures are to flooding and future storms. These programs, funded by the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, will help eligible low- and middle-income homeowners and property owners make informed decisions about reducing their risk that can also help lower flood insurance rates.
The tool features an interactive map that allows property owners to plug in their address to learn more about their individual situation. The map shows address-specific flood risk information, including current flood zone and whether it is expected to change. FloodHelpNY guides property owners through a sequence that clearly explains their individual flood risk and insurance situation, complete with information on recent legislation impacting flood insurance and easy-to-understand descriptions of the different flood zones and flood insurance policies. It also contains a questionnaire to help homeowners find out whether and how much their flood insurance rates will increase, and provides information on mitigation options that homeowners can use to lower unaffordable premiums.
FloodHelpNY is a project of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, which promotes and protects affordable homeownership so that middle- and working-class families are able to build strong, thriving communities.