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Sept. 11: One year after

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More than $20 billion promised to New York, but the flow is slow

By Shannon McCaffrey, Associated Press

WASHINGTON Soon after Sept. 11, President Bush promised New York City more than $20 billion in federal aid. A year later, only a fraction of that money has been spent.

Thousands of aid applications are sitting in government offices, while the cash flow has been slowed by red tape and a lack of consensus over how to rebuild the World Trade Center site.

Restrictive guidelines have prevented others from even qualifying for the money.

Garment workers in Chinatown say they have been neglected while large corporations have pocketed millions. Small businesses complain they have been overlooked. New Yorkers who applied for mortgage and rental assistance were initially turned away in large numbers.

"It's an outrage," said Duane Anzalone, whose family owned restaurant one block south of the World Trade Center went out of business after the attacks.

"I think the majority of the money that has been spent is getting to the wrong people. The people who need it most are getting the least."

While the largest charities have distributed 60 percent of the $2.4 billion in donations they have raised for Sept. 11, the federal government has handed out about 14 percent -- or roughly $3 billion -- of its $20.9 billion total.

One federal grant program administered by the state has 26,000 applications pending. Of the 35,000 loan application packets sent out by the Small Business Administration, there have been only about 5,000 recipients. A grant program for small businesses only began distributing funds in March.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees $8.8 billion of New York's Sept. 11 aid, has drawn the most fire for being tightfisted.

An agency accustomed to dealing with floods, hurricanes and earthquakes seemed intent in the months after Sept. 11 on not becoming the huge barrel of Washington pork said by critics to pay first and ask questions later.

For the first time, the agency insisted that residents applying for mortgage and rental assistance prove their losses were a "direct result" of the attacks, which meant rejecting 70 percent of the initial applicants. Entities that did not fit neatly into FEMA guidelines -- such as private universities and New York's utilities -- struggled early on to secure help.

FEMA has since shown greater flexibility and is reviewing those rejected applications. Thousands more have been approved, but even so, thousands of applications are still pending.

"This was a very different kind of event for us," said Brad Gair, FEMA's New York City recovery officer. "We've been trying to look outside of the traditional ways of dealing with disasters."

Another factor that has slowed the money is the cleanup at Ground Zero, which cost billions of dollars less than initially expected.

FEMA has had to redirect that money -- much of it toward rebuilding and upgrading the city's transit system. Those projects will take years and some of them are dependent on finalizing plans to rebuild the 16-acre site.

Guidelines for qualifying have also been too restrictive in some cases. Garment workers in Chinatown have, for instance, been left out because many lacked the needed specific employment documentation to qualify for aid. Businesses and workers too far from Ground Zero have also failed to qualify for some aid like housing assistance and economic development grants.

Questions also surround a separate $7.7 billion pot of aid and tax breaks intended to recharge New York City's weakened economy.

Those funds include $5 billion in tax breaks and bonds for lower Manhattan and $2.7 billion in community development funds.

Only $374.5 million in that aid has been given to businesses so far and critics are skeptical that the money will keep businesses downtown. Already, some of the Trade Center's largest tenants have announced plans to relocate in midtown or to leave the city altogether.

Some of the money to the largest corporations has been likened to corporate welfare. A grant of $25 million to American Express raised eyebrows because the company had already said publicly it planned to stay in New York.

But state economic development officials said the aid given to the large corporations has kept 40,000 jobs in downtown New York.

Small businesses have perhaps been hit the hardest. State officials took until March to get that aid out the door. Business advocates say the money has not been enough to meet the needs.

An estimated 1,200 to 2,000 small business, including about 600 in the twin towers, have been wiped out.

Today's news:
Ceremony at Ground Zero
Mass. remembers victims
Silence, tears mark day at Logan
Under alert, Mass. carries on
Bush faces day with resolve
World remembers attacks in US
Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.
Updated wire coverage

Photo galleries:
Families mourn, remember
Ceremony at Ground Zero
Ceremony at the Pentagon
Ceremony at Pa. crash scene
Remembrances worldwide
Remembrances in Boston

NECN RealVideo:
Moment of silence observed
Ceremony at State House
Gettysburg Address read
Procession at Ground Zero
A somber travel day at Logan
Images of Sept. 11, 2001



Preparing for the worst
Security has become the new norm in Greater Boston.


Fear and children
Children's responses may shed light on human anxiety, resiliency.


Muslim minds
The US effort to win over Muslim hearts and minds is failing.


Science vs. terrorism
New chemical, biological threats spur nation's top minds.


For those deported after Sept. 11, the losses are wrenching.


A special Magazine issue
A Sept. 11 narrative by former Massport chief Virginia Buckingham, plus an essay by Christopher Hitchens.

A special Arts section
How culture has changed since Sept. 11, including a gallery of art inspired by the attacks.

A special Focus section
A look at how the lives of six Americans were altered.

Everywhere USA
Terrorism comes to God's country.


Where is Al Qaeda?
How have bin Laden and his terrorist group eluded US forces?


Two cities
New York and DC one year later.


America remembers
The US looks back at the terrorist attacks.

Victims and survivors
A year later, still hurting.

A time for bells and remembrance
A clash of views on terror
Limited damage to the economy
Families build support system
NYC's healing process
Finding comfort in the kitchen
Bailey: A day of atonement

From the Associated Press:
Tribute paid with tattoos
Charities changed by 9/11
White House calls home
9/11 stole innocence, love
Man escaped earthquake, 9/11
Update on 9/11's famous faces
Firemen still burying dead
A mother's note to a lost son
9/11 created heroes in death
Voice mails bring comfort
Little things hold memories
87th floor survivor copes
Sampling of 9/11 memorials
Pentagon survivors move on
Moments of silence on Sept. 11
Survivors try to move forward
Families cling to chances
Sept. 11 widow trying to forgive
Widow becomes an advocate
Workplace response varies
Graphic: Funds offer relief

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