Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) spoke out against reports that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is planning to shift a portion of the Sandy relief package to disasters in other regions of the country. Pallone voiced his opposition to any plan that would divert Sandy funds away from the storm's victims and their rebuilding efforts in favor of unrelated incidents.
"I am absolutely opposed to any efforts to divert Sandy funds and use those dollars for other purposes elsewhere," said Pallone. "I fought hard to pass the Sandy aid package in Congress and it was outrageous that storm victims were forced to wait for three months for the bill to pass. Now, it is shocking that Members of Congress from other areas of the country who opposed the relief plan and delayed the funding New Jerseyans needed so desperately to recover are angling to redirect Sandy aid funding to their regions."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the potential HUD plan could result in the creation of a competitive grant program, allowing regions affected by other disasters to compete for dollars from the Sandy aid package.
"It is disturbing to hear reports that HUD would consider diverting these funds outside of the Sandy-impacted region when so many New Jerseyans are still struggling to recover and rebuild. The State of New Jersey has estimated that Sandy caused $37 billion in damage," said Pallone. "Sandy funds must be used for Sandy recovery and not one penny of those funds should be diverted. There must be a full and fair assessment of exactly what New Jerseyans still need to recover before there can be any discussion about anything other than restoring normalcy for Sandy victims and rebuilding storm damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure."
Pallone, who plans to speak with HUD Secretary Shaun Donavan next week, will inform the Secretary of his opposition to the plan to divert Sandy funds and the need for a comprehensive review of remaining funding needs.
"HUD officials appear to be under the mistaken notion that they are required to spend some of the Sandy aid package in regions of the country not affected by Superstorm Sandy. There is no provision in the law forcing HUD to divert funds to areas outside of the Sandy-affected states," said Pallone.