Charities urged to stop withholding Sandy relief donations

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(PIX11) — New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is challenging charities to do the right thing and give the money people donated in the days after Superstorm Sandy to the victims.

Thousands of people donated millions of dollars to help them. Schneiderman released a report saying a huge amount of that money is still being held by charities instead of the hands of the victims.

“The charities acknowledged to us that 42 percent of the money they raised still had not been spent five months after the storm,” he said, further stating that 89 charities raised almost a half billion dollars but as of April  were still holding $238 million.

The message to the organizations is clear: Get the money out to the victims or risk being sanctioned or shut down.

The Rockaways was one area that got slammed in October when Sandy hit shore.  Homes and businesses were destroyed; some lost everything they owned.  In Breezy Point, 135 homes burned to the ground and 350 were destroyed. Rebuilding has been slow and expensive, while getting money from banks, F.E.M.A. and other agencies has not been easy.

“People who truly, really need it ought to get it without hesitation. Devastation is devastation,” said Harry Lindsey of Rockaway. He added, “If the people who are holding that money were in our situation, they would be saying ‘please give me that money.'”

Schneiderman stopped short of calling the charities actions criminal but said his investigation is continuing.

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