Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) was joined by members of New Jersey's Congressional Delegation on a letter to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan voicing opposition to a plan to divert Superstorm Sandy Recovery funds to other disasters.
Last month, Pallone spoke out against media reports that HUD was considering redirecting yet untapped Sandy dollars toward a competitive grant program. The program would allow other regions of the country unaffected by the historic Superstorm to vie for Sandy funds for other disasters and remove money from the Sandy recovery package.
Pallone discussed his strong opposition to the plan with Secretary Donovan in a call last week when he noted that thousands of Sandy victims are still awaiting relief that has been delayed by bureaucratic red tape in Washington and by the Christie Administration in New Jersey. Pallone and several New Jersey members of Congress met with Secretary Donovan to discuss the plan today in advance of sending the letter opposing the diversion of Sandy relief funds.
In the meeting with Secretary Donovan, Pallone drew attention to issues including the need for additional transparency and that not enough emphasis has been placed on ensuring Sandy recovery funds get to low and moderate income Sandy victims. Additionally, the Congressman raised concerns about racial disparities in distribution of dollars in the first tranche of relief funding and the amount of money allocated to New Jersey compared to what has been allocated to New York State and New York City. Pallone also called on the HUD Secretary to exercise greater oversight over the Christie Administration's distribution of Sandy aid.
Below is the full text of the letter:
May 8, 2014
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
United States Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan:
We write to express our opposition to reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will utilize Community Development Block Grant -- Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds appropriated in the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 to fund a national resiliency competition. We strongly oppose any plan to divert funds from the disaster relief package outside of the Sandy affected region.
Meeting New Jersey's unmet needs will be difficult even if all of the remaining CDBG-DR funds are allocated to the Sandy-affected region. New Jersey's recently updated CDBG-DR Action Plan references over $17 billion in unmet infrastructure needs, $1.6 billion in unmet housing needs and over $241 million in unmet economic development needs. Over 7,000 homeowners desperate to repair and raise their homes remain on the waiting list for the Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program.
There is no provision in the law forcing HUD to divert CDBG-DR funds to areas outside of the Sandy-affected states. While the law gives HUD the flexibility to do so, we feel it is inappropriate and irresponsible to shift these recovery funds outside of our region when so many of our constituents are still struggling to recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
We urge you to reconsider any plan to create a national resiliency competition that will shortchange the recovery funds New Jersey needs to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy. In New Jersey, homeowners and businesses are still struggling and infrastructure is still in disrepair. It is critical for the remaining CDBG-DR funds to remain in the Sandy-affected region.