NEW YORK, NY - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez and Charles E. Schumer today vowed to fight to ensure that all New Jersey and New York homeowners affected by Sandy receive the federal aid that they need to recover, in light of concerns that some in Washington are angling to redirect this funding to other states. Recently, it has been reported that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has considered a potential national resiliency competition that would use up to $2 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion of CDBG funding from the Sandy Relief Bill to fund projects in other states that were recently affected by natural disasters. Menendez and Schumer said that New Jersey and New York, the states hit hardest by Sandy, should be HUD's top and first priority, as the relief bill has always intended. They pledged to ensure that Sandy aid does not go elsewhere until the needs of New Jersey and New York are met.
"It is neither prudent - nor does it make sense - to deny vital aid to thousands of Sandy victims for whom recovery assistance was intended," Menendez insisted. "Congress didn't mean for disaster assistance to be a disaster relief lottery that anyone can win. Congress intended to make sure the people who suffered losses got the help they needed. Bottom line: Let's keep Sandy recovery funds for Sandy victims and not build our disaster relief capabilities on the backs of those who have already lost so much."
"It's outrageous that there we are even discussing a potential plan to redirect Sandy relief dollars to states across the country, while homeowners in New York and New Jersey are still waiting on much-needed relief," said Schumer. "We all know that Sandy victims throughout New York and New Jersey are still getting back on their feet and making repairs to their homes, and I will fight for them to be the number one priority for remaining housing aid, as has always been intended, before a single dollar is put up for grabs in a national resiliency competition."
Menendez and Schumer championed and helped pass the $60 billion Sandy Relief Bill through Congress in January 2013. Of that, $15.2 billion is Community Development Block Grant- disaster relief funding, which is administered through HUD. This type of funding is intended to satisfy unmet needs that arise in the wake of a disaster, and the Senators said that in the case of the Sandy relief bill, CDBG dollars were specifically set aside with the intention of meeting housing needs in New Jersey and New York. Thus far, more than $10 billion of CDBG has been spent, and approximately $3.6 billion remain in that pot of funding. At the same time, there are billions of dollars-worth of unmet housing needs for New Jersey and New York homeowners affected by Sandy.
It recently became known that HUD is considering spending a portion of the remaining $3.6 billion of CDBG Sandy relief funding on a national resiliency competition for states hit by natural disasters in 2011, 2012 and 2013. There is concern that others in Congress support such a competition, which forty-eight states across the country could qualify for. Menendez and Schumer will say that no such national competition should be considered before all Sandy-related housing needs are met.
The Senators today pledged to fight for Sandy victims and explained that New Jersey and New York should remain top priority. With homeowners still getting back on their feet, Menendez and Schumer explained that Sandy funding should not be redirected to other states until all Sandy victims' needs are met.