Superstorm Sandy Aid Slow to Reach Most NJ Victims

Monday, 05 May 2014 05:26 PM

By Cathy Burke

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The federal government has doled out more than $1.8 billion in Superstorm Sandy aid, but less than a quarter of it has reached residents still struggling to rebuild after the October 2012 disaster, a New Jersey performance report shows.

Total state spending through the end of March came to just $416 million, or 23 percent of the aid package; 77 percent sits in government coffers, the report shows, the Star Ledger
reported.

"I'm shocked that there's still that amount of money," Donna Kulesa, of Toms River, told the Daily Journal, which noted that the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program to which she applied has been slowed by red tape and contractor problems.

"I think they need to do a better job. I don't want to lose my home," Kulesa said.

According to the quarterly report to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which allocated the more than $1.8 billion to New Jersey in February 2013, almost 600 homeowners signed grant awards for the housing recovery program in March, nearly doubling the number of awards signed the previous month.

Homeowners are eligible for up to $150,000 through the rebuilding grant.

More than $1.3 billion of federal aid is "in the pipeline or out the door," the quarterly report noted.

Still, "there should be more in the hands of residents at this point," lawyer Adam Gordon, of the Fair Share Housing Center, told the Star Ledger.

Gov. Chris Christie's spokesman, Kevin Roberts, told the newspaper that "this money is moving faster than in any prior major disaster," adding that "we have been working to improve the program and get funding to families as quickly as possible."

More money is on its way to New Jersey, and the federal government is now reviewing the state's plan to spend the more than $1.46 billion in aid, the Star Ledger reported.

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