The Honorable Chris Christie
Governor of the State of New Jersey
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Governor Christie:
I write today to urge you to reopen applications for the Homeowner Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program as well as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) Elevation Program to homeowners that have only recently, and after the deadline for applications to both programs were past, received a determination of "substantial damage" due to Hurricane Sandy.
The State of New Jersey provided Sandy-impacted municipalities with a list of properties determined to have been substantially damaged just six weeks ago. As you know, this determination triggers the requirement that certain properties be elevated in order to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Many of my constituents in towns such as Little Ferry received notice of the need to elevate only after the application periods for federally funded elevation assistance had already closed. These damage assessments should have been completed months ago so that homeowners could have known what was required of them when undertaking repairs on their homes and had the opportunity to apply for federal relief.
These homeowners were shocked to learn of the elevation requirement for the first time nearly ten months after the storm, just as their lives are finally returning to normal. Many of my constituents have already put thousands of dollars in insurance and federal assistance funding toward extensive repairs on their homes. With the closing of applications for the RREM program on August 1st and the HMGP Elevation Program on September 16th, these residents have been shut out from receiving any federal resources to help elevate their homes without even having had the opportunity to apply.
This is unacceptable. Extending the application periods for RREM Program, which provides grants of up to $150,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funding, as well as the HMGP Elevation Program, which provides up to $30,000 in federal FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding, would give these homeowners much-needed access to the help they are entitled to. I further urge you to commit funding from future rounds of CDBG-DR funding to these programs if it is necessary to meet the additional demand for elevation assistance.
Thank you for your consideration of this important request. I look forward to your prompt response.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress