WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today applauded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for amending the rules pertaining to Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding by allowing New Jerseyans who have started rebuilding their homes to apply for CDBG funding. Previously, CDBG rules required homeowners to wait months for their application to get approved before they could even begin the process of rebuilding. This would have penalized homeowners who started the rebuilding process, and acted as a disincentive for the most expeditious Sandy recovery possible.

This special guidance provided exclusively for CDBG funds made available for Sandy recovery comes as HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is scheduled tomorrow to brief New Jersey's congressional delegation on Sandy recovery. Among the issues Menendez will raise during the meeting will be how to get federal funds to rebuilders faster, how to work to make flood insurance more affordable, and how to get the counties and municipalities more resources for planning.

"For the thousands of residents who demonstrated the resiliency of New Jersey by rebuilding soon after the storm passed, HUD's action today will ensure they are eligible for the help they deserve," said Sen. Menendez, who pushed for CDBG funds to be included in the $60.2 billion federal Sandy relief package passed in January. "Recovering from disaster is not a one-size-fits-all undertaking. Now homeowners will not be automatically disqualified from CDBG funding simply because they did not adhere to a prescribed government timeline. I want to thank Secretary Donovan for his responsiveness to our unique challenges of recovering from Sandy. This sound policy change maintains accountability for the use of federal funding while getting Sandy relief to the people who need it as quickly as possible."

Response and recovery begins on the date of a disaster, well before CDBG assistance becomes available. In order to ensure that long-term Sandy recovery efforts are not impeded by the delays in federal funds, HUD announced today that home rehabilitation costs incurred by homeowners who have not yet applied for or been awarded CDBG funds would still be eligible for CDBG reimbursement.