N.J. seeks to shift Sandy funds to help homeowners finish rebuilding

New Jersey wants to shift $50 million in unspent federal money to assist Superstorm Sandy victims who still haven't rebuilt their homes.

Aftermath of the destructive Superstorm Sandy

This aerial photo shows the destroyed homes left in the wake of Superstorm Sandy on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, in Ortley Beach, N.J. (Mike Groll/AP Photo)

New Jersey is seeking to shift $50 million in unspent federal money to assist Superstorm Sandy victims who still haven’t rebuilt their homes more than six years after the hurricane. The state also plans to spend an additional $10 million to build affordable housing, and extend rental assistance.

The latest proposal is the 28th amendment to the state’s initial Community Development Block Grant  Disaster Recovery Action Plan filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in April 2013.

New Jersey has received more than $4 billion in federal money for the state’s recovery programs since 2013, with $1.2 billion remaining unspent.

Under the current proposal, New Jersey is seeking to shift $46 million of the unspent money to the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program and $4 million to the Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) Homeowners Rebuilding Program.

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The RREM and LMI Programs provide grant awards to eligible primary homeowners for necessities to repair storm-damaged homes.

The RREM program has received more than $1.3 billion in funding, with 6,300 projects completed and $900 million distributed to homeowners. There have been 200 projects completed with the $50 million allocated to the LMI program.

On the sixth anniversary of the storm in October, Gov. Phil Murphy said that he would help the approximately 1,000 remaining Sandy-impacted homeowners return back to their properties.

“We want to work with people who are struggling financially to determine what they can realistically contribute, and we want to get them across the finish line so they can return home and get some much-overdue normalcy in their lives,” Murphy said.

State officials have said recovery program participants have faced delays due to the lack of necessary funding to complete construction, dishonest contractors, and a shortage of qualified buildings.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held on Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. in room 33 at the Toms River Municipal Complex. Comments can also be submitted to sandy.publiccomment@dca.nj.gov.

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