Yesterday, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) sent the following letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie regarding his proposed plan to use more than $1.8 billion in federal dollars from the Superstorm Sandy relief package passed by Congress in January. The funding represents the first wave of Community Development Block Grant funding, which may be used to help repair homes and small businesses damaged by Sandy. Congressman Pallone announced the grant funding last month and laid out some of his priorities in his letter to Christie as to how the funding should be used to help Sandy victims.
The following is the text of the letter:
March 19, 2013
Governor Chris Christie
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Christie,
I write today regarding your proposed Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Action Plan. With $1,829,520,000 allocated to the state of New Jersey for this first wave of CDBG funding, it will be critical to expeditiously pay out these funds to struggling homeowners and businesses that need financial assistance to rebuild and recover from the historic storm.
One of my key concerns regarding this action plan is ensuring sufficient funds are set aside to aid homeowners who are pursuing buyouts in areas where they have faced severe and repetitive damages to their homes from flooding. I have met with a number of homeowners in my district, in communities like Sayreville, where their homes have flooded so many times that they feel the only option is to pursue a buyout and move on.
It will also be critical for enough funds to be made available for homeowners to elevate and repair their homes. As I have travelled my district, which was hit extremely hard by the storm, I have met with many homeowners that need financial assistance to elevate their homes because their insurance did not cover enough of the damage and FEMA assistance has not been enough. There are also those who did not sustain substantial damage but are in an area where they must raise their home to reduce risk. I am concerned about potential income eligibility requirements that could impact middle class New Jerseyans that do not fall into the category of low-to-moderate-income households.
I have met with numerous small business owners that need help getting back on their feet after sustaining severe damage from Hurricane Sandy. Many do not qualify for Small Business Administration disaster loans and did not have sufficient insurance to cover their damages. For example, many commercial and recreational fishing businesses in my district and across New Jersey are struggling to repair and recover from the serious losses they incurred from this historic storm.
As you know, my district suffered some of the worst damage from Hurricane Sandy. It will be critical to distribute this Community Development Block Grant funding quickly to homeowners and businesses in need in New Jersey. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance in any way.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress