HUD Secretary Meets with Smith, N.J. Delegation on Concerns of Homeowners Victimized by Sandy
Sec. Donovan offers ‘bedrock commitment’ NJ will get funding it needs
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, hosted a meeting between a bipartisan group of the N.J. delegation and Secretary Shaun Donovan of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to ask questions and voice their concerns, shared by state lawmakers, as to why the process for helping homeowners recovering from Superstorm Sandy is taking so long, and when additional recovery assistance can be expected from HUD.
“The Secretary made an iron-clad commitment to us to meet the housing needs of the victims of Sandy in New Jersey,” said Smith, noting that there are approximately 6,300 applicants in New Jersey who remain on the waitlist for HUD money through the state’s Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program (RREM). “In my district alone, I still have over 1,000 people waiting. I specifically asked the Secretary if he could assure our delegation that critical housing needs in New Jersey will be met in the third tranche of funding.” (click here to read Smith’s opening statement)
Donovan told the representatives that “New Jersey will get the money it deserves,” and assured the group, “That is a bedrock commitment I am making.” He said the third tranche of funding could begin moving in the next several weeks. He said he would “do everything I can” to make sure those unmet housing needs are addressed.
“I also asked Secretary Donovan to support legislation I am writing to give him the authority to allow reimbursements to homeowners for costs they incur after they submit their applications and before they perform required environmental and historical reviews. That is currently prohibited under HUD guidance—even once homeowners complete and satisfy the reviews,” Smith said. “This puts homeowners in a difficult position: they are unable to start construction or repairs without the risk of losing federal reimbursement. They just wait with no relief in sight.” Members at the meeting indicated they would cosponsor the legislation.
Attending the meeting with Secretary Donovan were the bulk of the delegation, organized by Smith (R-NJ-04), Dean of the New Jersey Delegation, and New Jersey Representatives Frank LoBiondo, (R-NJ-02), Jon Runyan, (R-NJ-03), Scott Garrett (R-NJ-05); Frank Pallone (D-NJ-06), Leonard Lance (R-NJ-07), Albio Sires (D-NJ-08), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ-09), Donald M. Payne Jr. (D-NJ-10), and staff.