Acting on his commitment to get Sandy-impacted New Jerseyans back in their homes, Governor Chris Christie today announced in Manahawkin that $817 million -- or more than 70 percent -- of federal Sandy housing recovery funds have been disbursed or committed to residents in need. Of those funds, $596 million -- or 73 percent is targeted at low and moderate income (LMI), which is defined as families with income less than 80 percent of an area's median income.
The Christie Administration exceeded the $800 million mark in the eight months since the Obama Administration approved the state's $1.83 billion New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan that allocates $1.159 billion in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds to housing recovery programs for homeowners, renters and rental property owners.
"Getting Sandy-impacted families back into their homes and communities has been a top priority of mine since the storm hit," said Governor Christie. "Today's milestone is a testament to the dedication of this Administration to help our neighbors recover from the storm. We know that there is much more work to be done and we will continue to work hard to advance our recovery programs and get New Jerseyans back in their homes."
The $180 million Homeowner Resettlement Program, which provides eligible Sandy-impacted homeowners with a $10,000 grant to incentivize them to stay in their home community rather than relocating, is almost entirely obligated, with $166 million in funding committed or expended. The program has awarded more than 16,600 Resettlement checks to eligible families, with nearly 200 more families in the process of being scheduled for their grant closing. Families can utilize the money for non-construction storm-related expenses such as increases in flood insurance premiums and rent payments for temporary housing.
The $600 million Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program is a construction-based program encumbered by numerous federal requirements in place largely in response to abuse and fraud post-Katrina. New Jersey and all other states receiving CDBG Disaster Recovery funds must abide by these federal regulations before awarding any construction-based grants. Despite these difficulties, the state has sent preliminary award letters to 4,300 Sandy-impacted homeowners, committing $100,000 per application until the final grant award for each applicant is known.
"While eclipsing $800 million is a significant accomplishment, the Governor and I know there's still a long way to go," said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III, whose Department administers the federal CDBG Disaster Recovery funding for the state. "Many families are still not back in their homes. Therefore, we will continue to tirelessly work to get even more housing recovery funds out the door so that we can reach more families who are still struggling in the aftermath of Sandy."