Podcast: Understanding how Sandy aid works in New Jersey


If you weren’t directly impacted by Superstorm Sandy, it’s pretty easy to hear about the various Sandy aid programs and not remember what fund somebody’s talking about.

The first time I heard of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), for example, was when the national press went wild after Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer accused New Jersey’s Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno of pressuring her to fast-track a development project or risk not getting Sandy relief aid. Guadagno has denied Zimmer’s claims. The money Zimmer wanted is part of a FEMA program to help cities prepare for future storms. 

I asked Scott Gurian who covers the Sandy rebuilding effort for WNYC and NJ Spotlight to give me the basics on where all the money comes from, and how it’s being distributed.

While oversimplifications can be risky, if it helps someone get the basic idea, then its justified. Here’s an uber light version of how federal Sandy aid gets to the people.

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Congress approves $48 billion to help all states recover from Superstorm Sandy.

Gov Christie says N.J. will get $10-15 billion of this.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allows N.J.’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) to distribute federal money to people who need additional help rebuilding their homes and recovering from the storm.

DCA’s 3 main programs aimed at homeowners:

1) Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program

2) Homeowner Resettlement Program

3) Sandy Homebuyer Assistance Program (SHAP)

(Homeowners, renters and small business owners also get recovery funding from FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program and the Small Business Administration)

The rest of the Congressionally approved Sandy aid is aimed at local and state governments to repair their infrastructure and make it more resilient to future storms. It’s filtered through a variety of federal agencies including:

Dept. of Transportation

Dept. of Homeland Security i.e. FEMA

Dept. of Housing and Urban Development

Army Corps of Engineers

Dept. of the Interior

Dept. of Health and Human Services

Environmental Protection Agency

Small Business Administration 

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