New Jersey releases plan for second wave of Sandy funds

 (AP File Photo/Kathy Willens)

(AP File Photo/Kathy Willens)

New Jersey released a plan Monday detailing how it would like to spend the second wave of federal Sandy recovery aid — some $1.4 billion — which reads like a lengthy “honey-do” list of lingering Sandy repairs: fix homes, shore up the coastline, promote tourism.

A bit less than a third of the funds is slated to go to homeowners currently on wait lists for grants. Another $100 million will buy and demolish homes that flood repeatedly. There’s $5 million to create a new tourism campaign, far less than the $25 million spent on last year’s “Stronger than the Storm” ads.

Housing advocates complain that it’s more of the same as the first round, which they think underserved renters and didn’t get to people who needed it most.

“The new plan doubles down on Christie’s failed Sandy strategy,” said Adam Gordon, a staff attorney for the Fair Share Housing Center, in a press release. “It provides a road map for more political spending over real relief that meets the needs of people most impacted by Sandy.”

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration says the money is going to replenish programs that are working, but are oversubscribed. Plus, it’s adding $535 million for infrastructure projects that would reduce future flood damage or minimize power outages during storms.

But even with the additional resources, demand for the recovery funds will outweigh their supply, cautioned Marc Ferzan, the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Recovery and Rebuilding. The state has identified $19 billion in unmet needs across the housing, infastructure, and economic development sectors. 

“We have very difficult decisions to make in terms of allocating the $1.4 billion,” Ferzan said.

A third funding allocation is expected, he added, though it may go soley to the Rebuild by Design competition.

 

Residents and stakeholders have 30 days to review and submit comments on the plan before the state submits it to the federal government for approval, which could take up to 60 additional days. 

The state will also hold three public hearings on the proposed plan:

Feb. 11; Stockton University; 101 Vera King Farris Drive, Galloway; Performing Arts Center; 4–7 p.m.
Feb. 12; New Jersey Institute of Technology;150 Bleeker St., Newark; Campus Center; 5:30–8:30 p.m.
Feb. 13; Brookdale Community College; Robert J. Collins Arena; 765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft; 4–7 p.m.

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