In a letter sent today, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., (NJ-06) called for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan to resolve two roadblocks New Jerseyans are facing in obtaining Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Sandy aid package.
"New Jerseyans were promised help when Sandy destroyed their homes and businesses, and access to the Community Development Block Grants is instrumental to delivering on that promise. Unfortunately, New Jerseyans are facing road blocks instead of a straightforward process," said Pallone. "Changes must be made immediately to ensure New Jerseyans won't have to further delay their recovery, or in the worst case scenario, give up their life savings as a result of an unfair policy."
Full text of the letter follows:
July 12, 2013
Honorable Shaun Donovan
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan,
I write today regarding issues homeowners in New Jersey are facing with eligibility for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from the Sandy aid package. Availability of this funding to homeowners who face serious rebuilding costs is crucial to a robust recovery in New Jersey.
In New Jersey, many homeowners were told they could begin the process of rebuilding and repairing their home and that the funds spent for these purposes would be eligible for reimbursement with federal CDBG funds provided to the state of New Jersey. However, some homeowners are now being told that money spent on repairs cannot be reimbursed because of a HUD regulation requiring environmental reviews for homes that sustained damage in excess of 50% of the property's value. I ask that you review and reconsider this requirement so that homeowners who made repairs in good faith can receive the federal assistance they deserve.
Another issue that has been brought to my attention relates to homeowners who applied for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. New Jersey homeowners are being told that they are not eligible for CDBG assistance if they applied for a SBA loan, even if they ultimately did not accept the loan. After Superstorm Sandy hit, SBA encouraged homeowners to apply for loans even if they were not certain if they wanted a loan. Many New Jersey residents could not afford to repay the terms of a loan and therefore desperately need the assistance being offered through CDBG grants. I do not see this as a duplication of benefits in any way and I ask that you work with SBA to ensure New Jersey homeowners who didn't accept loans are eligible for CDBG grants.
Thank you for your attention to these important issues that are central to the rebuilding process in New Jersey. I look forward to working with you to ensure all New Jersey residents have the resources they need to rebuild from this storm.
FRANK PALLONE, JR.
Member of Congress