‘Botched’ process wrongly denies Sandy aid to hundreds in N.J.

New Jersey lawmakers are responding angrily to a report showing that aid was wrongly denied to hundreds of Sandy victims.

Almost 80 percent of the thousands of homeowners who filed appeals were found to have been wrongly denied grant money to help rebuild and elevate their homes, according to information the Fair Share Housing Center obtained from the Christie administration.

That’s an embarrassment, said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“The money should be out. People’s lives should be restored. It would help our economy. It would actually help the economy by getting the money out,” he said Thursday. “So it’s hard to describe how frustrating it is that this program has been botched as much as it has been.”

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Assemblyman Chris A. Brown said he’s been working with Sandy victims in Atlantic County to make sure they get the aid they were entitled to under the program.

“Learning that there’s 80 percent of those who applied were wrongly denied is certainly concerning to me. Obviously we have to give them a fair opportunity and make sure that they’re treated fairly,” said Brown, R-Atlantic.

The high rate of those found ineligible was due to FEMA providing inaccurate damage assessment data, according to the state Department of Community Affairs.

Sweeney is joining U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., in calling for the state to reopen the application process for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal