Continuing in his commitment to supporting hometown security as a critical part of homeland security, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) today urged U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to maintain federal funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Nonprofit Security Grant Program. The program provides funding support for target hardening activities to nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of a terrorist attack and located within one of the specific FY 2011 UASI-eligible urban areas.
In the final Continuing Appropriations Bill for FY2012, Congress appropriated over $1.3 billion for State and Local Grant Programs, but left the distribution of that funding up to the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security. Congressman Pascrell's letter requests that, in spite of an overall reduction in funding for FEMA State and Local Grant Programs over 40%, the Secretary maintain or increase the share allocated to the Non-Profit Security Grant Program. In FY2011, Congress directed $19 million for the program.
Local recipients of the funding in the past year include St. Joseph's Health Care System (Paterson and Wayne) and YBH of Passaic-Hillel (Passaic). Both received the maximum award amount of $75,000. The funds were allocated based on risk analysis, effectiveness, and integration with broader state and local preparedness efforts. Each nonprofit organization was able to apply through their SAA for up to a $75,000 grant award.
The text of Rep. Pascrell's letter to Secretary Napolitano follows:
January 12, 2012
The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528
Dear Secretary Napolitano:
I'm writing to you regarding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP). I understand that under the terms of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2012 passed by Congress this past December, you have the discretion to allocate funding to FEMA's State and Local programs, including NSGP. Despite that funding for FEMA's State and Local Programs were cut by 40 percent in that bill, and it did not specify a funding level for NSGP, I would strongly urge you to maintain funding for this critical program at the level it was funded in FY2011.
The need for this critical program has been demonstrated dramatically by a recent string of disturbing anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey. Over the past several weeks, there have been a series of crimes targeting synagogues across Bergen County. What started last month with incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism in Hackensack and Maywood has disturbingly evolved into two incidents of suspected arson involving houses of worship in Paramus and Rutherford. In Rutherford, an incendiary device was thrown through the window of an Orthodox temple, which is also the home of a Rabbi, his wife, five children and father. Thankfully, no one was severely injured in these attacks, and the FBI is investigating these crimes, along with Bergen County Law Enforcement, under federal hate crimes and possibly domestic terrorism statutes. I am confident that we will find and capture these criminals so that the Jewish communities in New Jersey will be able to practice their religion in peace and security.
These incidents highlight the continuing need for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program, which was designed precisely so that at-risk nonprofit organizations, like houses of worship, can acquire and install equipment to secure themselves against a potential terrorist attack, as well as integrate their preparedness activities and promote coordination and collaboration with state and local government efforts. While I understand you will have tough choices to make when allocating the nearly $1 billion to the various important FEMA State and Local Programs, the Non-Profit Security Grant Program is a relatively small, but still extremely important, piece of the pie that makes an enormous difference to the non-profits who are able to use the funds to increase their security hardware and procedures.
As an original member of the House Homeland Security Committee, and in light of these tragic recent events, I understand how important this program is to the communities of Northern New Jersey. In FY2011, $19 million dollars was designated for this program. Despite the broad cuts to all FEMA State and Local Programs, I would urge you to maintain at least this level of funding so the communities of Northern New Jersey can secure themselves and ensure that their synagogues and other houses of worship remain safe places where families can practice their religions in peace.
I thank you for your attention to this request and look forward to the favor of your reply.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress