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Victims of storm Sandy may move into low-income housing: IRS

A view of a house destroyed by Superstorm Sandy with its debris still uncleared at Staten Island in New York January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Eduard
A view of a house destroyed by Superstorm Sandy with its debris still uncleared at Staten Island in New York January 4, 2013. REUTERS/Eduard

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The government is clearing the way for people displaced by Superstorm Sandy more than three months ago to temporarily move into low-income housing by suspending some tax regulations on those rental apartments and houses.

Under Internal Revenue Service regulations, housing agencies can only rent to people with incomes below a certain amount at projects that were financed with tax-exempt bonds. The tax agency said on Wednesday it was suspending the income limitations.

Owners of apartment buildings would continue to receive a special tax credit for renting to those with low incomes, even if people displaced by Sandy with higher incomes move in, the IRS said.

The low-income qualifications are effectively on pause until November 30.

Thousands of people were displaced after the storm came ashore on the East Coast in October, and many are still struggling to find adequate shelter while the region is in the grip of winter.

Altogether, nine states and the District of Columbia were declared disaster areas by President Barack Obama. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut were the hardest hit.

Last month, U.S. government-backed housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration extended by 90 days their disaster-relief assistance for borrowers whose homes were damaged in the storm.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to spend up to $400 million of the state's federal recovery money to buy out the owners of homes that were destroyed.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Margaret Chadbourn in Washington and Hilary Russ in New York; Editing by Eric Beech)

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