New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Sheila Oliver told lawmakers the state is making efforts to help families who are still not back home five-and-a-half years after Superstorm Sandy damaged their primary residence.
Oliver, who also serves as New Jersey’s Lt. Governor, says the state has $1.2 billion dollars left of the $4 billion in Sandy recovery aid it got from the federal government.
“The U-S Department of Housing and Urban Development has given us until 2022 to utilize that funding. So we think that at the end of the day we will be able to satisfy and support people who still have to find their way back home.”
New Jersey Organizing Project director Amanda Devecka-Rinear says that would be amazing.
“If we can just give people the help they need to walk people through finishing the process and whatever additional funds they need to get home, let’s do it. It’s been too long. Let’s get on top of this and make it work.”
About a thousand families in New Jersey are still displaced from their Sandy-damaged homes.
Oliver says the administration will do everything possible to reduce the impact of so-called clawbacks of Sandy grant money from homeowners who were told they were overpaid.
Doug Quinn’s home in Toms River was destroyed by Sandy. He’s hoping there’s a solution to make the clawbacks end. Quinn and other Sandy victims received federal assistance through the state’s RREM program.
“I haven’t received the clawback letter. But I know that I just can’t relax. So when people get home the nightmare is not over. We’re hearing people say it takes a year to two years to close out of the RREM process. So even though they may be in their homes they’re still living through this nightmare and just waiting to open the mailbox and see a clawback letter comes in.”
If all else fails, Oliver says the state will push for an extended time for homeowners to repay their disallowed costs.