WASHINGTON, DC - Today, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) released a letter expressing concern with reports that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is considering diverting disaster relief funding for Superstorm Sandy victims to other areas of the country. Reacting to recent media reports in his letter, Rep. Pascrell objects to plans for CDGB-DR funding from the Sandy relief bill to be spent on a nationwide competition for resiliency projects. Rep. Pascrell cites the tremendous need that remains in New Jersey, and also offers support to Secretary Donovan for a new appropriation for a nationwide initiative, rather than the department using funding intended for Sandy victims.
The full text of the letter follows:
April 22, 2014
The Honorable Shaun Donovan
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW
Washington, DC 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan:
Thank you for your extensive work coordinating federal efforts to aid in Hurricane Sandy recovery. I am writing regarding the allocation of the remaining Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds appropriated under the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. Recent reports have indicated that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is considering diverting a significant level of this funding to other areas of the country. Due to the amount of unmet need in New Jersey and across the region, I firmly believe that the remaining CDBG-DR funding should be devoted exclusively toward the ongoing Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.
As you know, the final amount of supplemental funding provided by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 was determined based on the estimated damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted on New Jersey, New York, and the surrounding areas. My colleagues and I fought for this funding to assist the people of our region, and our constituents need all the help they can get to recover from this disaster of historic proportions. However, despite this relief, New Jersey continues to have large unmet needs, particularly regarding its CDBG funded housing recovery programs. Over 7,000 homeowners remain on the waitlist for the State’s oversubscribed Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) grant program, and residents towns such as Moonachie and Little Ferry my district and across the State will need this funding to help them get back on their feet and into their homes.
In the face of such demonstrated need, it is unacceptable for HUD to divert this funding outside of the Sandy impacted region. If HUD believes that their ability to respond disasters across the country is limited by the resources provided in the Sandy aid package, then the Administration should submit an additional supplemental appropriations request to the Congress. As we have done on countless prior occasions, I am confident that my colleagues in the region would happily support legislation to provide assistance to any region of the country impacted by a similar disaster.
Again, I urge you to ensure that federal dollars appropriated by Congress with the intent of providing aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy are not dedicated to other purposes outside of the Sandy-impacted region. I look forward your prompt response, and to continuing our work together to ensure that those who had their lives upended by Sandy will experience a full recovery.
Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Member of Congress
Chief of Staff
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-09)