House bill that would eliminate Superstorm Sandy ‘clawbacks’ advances

In this aerial photo, sand fills the streets in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, along the central Jersey Shore. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

In this aerial photo, sand fills the streets in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, along the central Jersey Shore. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

Legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives would eliminate millions of dollars in “clawbacks” that some victims of Superstorm Sandy still struggle to afford.

Many homeowners who received state and federal assistance after Sandy were asked to pay back some or all of their aid for a litany of reasons, including allegations they “duplicated” their benefits by having two sources of funding for one purpose.

The House Appropriations Committee last week agreed to an amendment from N.J. U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Frank Pallone, and Andy Kim that would allow the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to waive recoupment of disaster relief provided to families after Superstorm Sandy.

Families may qualify for waivers if the recipient has died, if they were defrauded, filed for bankruptcy or experienced foreclosure, or received assistance from multiple programs.

“This is a major step forward in relieving the burden of millions in debt from our neighbors across New Jersey,” Kim said. “The time is now to forgive this financial burden and allow our community to focus on recovering from the ongoing crisis we’re facing right now.”

The fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill is slated for an August vote before the congressional recess.

Joe Hernandez contributed reporting. 

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