The Christie Administration today announced that more than 18,200 eligible families have received assistance through the $215 million Homeowner Resettlement Program. The program provides every eligible Sandy-impacted homeowner who applied to the program a $10,000 grant to incentivize them to stay in their home community rather than relocating. Families receiving the Resettlement grant can use the money for non-construction storm-related expenses, such as increases in flood insurance premiums, utility bills, replacement furniture, mortgage payments and rent for temporary housing. Resettlement checks to 18,200 of the more than 18,500 eligible applicants have been processed and mailed out, bringing the program nearly to completion.
"As we have said since the start of our Sandy recovery process, our goal has always been to help New Jersey residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy rebuild their lives in the communities that they know as home," said Governor Chris Christie. "By supporting more than 18,200 families in exactly that way, Homeowner Resettlement Program has been a critical program in helping families stay in their communities, preserving the character of our neighborhoods, and helping bring a return to normalcy after Sandy."
The Christie Administration originally allocated $180 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funding to the Resettlement Program. Because of the unmet demand, the Administration sought and received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) this past January to transfer an additional $35 million in CDBG Disaster Recovery monies into the Resettlement Program to fully fund the more than 18,500 eligible Sandy-impacted homeowners who applied to the program. Recipients must agree to remain in their home county for at least three years.
"What we've been able to accomplish with the Resettlement Program in less than a year, demonstrates our commitment to process, review and approve thousands of applications as efficiently and as effectively as possible," said DCA Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III, whose Department administers many of the state's Sandy Recovery programs. "Because of these grants, more homeowners stayed in their home counties to recover than otherwise would have. We're proud that $182 million in Resettlement funds have been disbursed and that 98 percent of eligible applicants have already received their grants."
"I hope to stay in my house for much longer than three years," said Cheryl Gill of Brigantine who received one of the Homeowner Resettlement checks. "After what we've been through, we're not going anywhere."
Ms. Gill said she is using her Resettlement grant to meet house expenses that were not covered by insurance or by her Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program grant.
"The Resettlement grant really helped us out quite a bit," she said.
The federal government approved the state's Action Plan to begin spending the $1.83 billion first round of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds on April 29, 2013. In less than a month, on May 24, 2013, DCA began accepting applications to the Resettlement Program. To qualify for the Resettlement grant, homeowners had to live in one of the nine counties HUD designated as most impacted by Sandy, their home had to be their primary residence at the time of the storm, they had to register with FEMA for disaster assistance, and their residence had to have sustained at $8,000 or more in damage or at least one foot of water on the first floor.