Christie Should Come Clean About RREM Snafus At Town Hall Meeting
The Christie Administration has terminated a contract with a second company it hired to assist survivors of Superstorm Sandy rebuild their homes, according to a report on WNYC.
Governor Christie announcing a second round of RREM assistance, and that fact that federal assistance to rebuild from Sandy will be $17 billion or more short, in Keansburg last week. Photo by Paul Scharff
URS, a global San Francisco based engineering and construction management firm had a $20 million contract to supervise the rebuilding of New Jersey homes under the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) program. The contract has been terminated. Homeowners are being informed by state officials that one of two remaining contractors will now supervise the rebuilding of their homes.
RREM provides $150,000 Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to New Jersey residents as “last resort” rebuilding assistance. The federal money is supposed to assist residents who have insufficient funds after insurance, other government assistance and private monies are exhausted. URS was one of three companies hired to supervise home rebuilding, according to the WNYC report. Residents who were working with URS have been assigned to one of the two other contractors. The amount of fees committed to the remaining two contractors has not been reported.
While the Christie Administration has received high marks for its administration of assistance to municipal governments and businesses impacted by Sandy, there is growing criticism and frustration over the repeated delays in getting assistance to homeowners.
Governor Chris Christie came to the bayshore with members of his cabinet yesterday with a sobering message for residents battered by Superstorm Sandy who a waiting for government assistance to rebuild their homes and to comply with new government imposed requirements for those homes.
New Jersey sustained $37 billion in damage from Sandy. Federal assistance to New Jersey will tap out at between $15 and $20 billion, Christie said.
It’s been 15 months since Superstorm Sandy ravaged New Jersey. The first $1.83 billion in relief from the Department of Housing and Urban Development has been spent or is committed. Another $1.46 billion is being applied for, but it will be another three months at least before that money starts to flow.
The HUD Community Block Development Grants (CBDG) grants are the last resort funding for homeowners and renters/landlords, designed to fill needs not covered by insurance proceeds, FEMA assistance, Small Business Administration loans and other sources.
Before New Jersey receives the $1.46 billion second round of funding, there is a 30 day public comment period on the CDBG Disaster Recovery Action Plan. The public comment period runs through March 5. In Monmouth County, there will be a public hearing on February 13 at Brookdale Community College, Robert J. Collins Arena, 765 Newman Springs Rd, Lincroft from 4pm-7pm. There will be hearing is Atlantic County at Stockton University on February 11 and in Essex County at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on the 12th. Written comments can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or can be provided by mail to the attention of Gabrielle Gallagher, NJ Department of Community Affairs, 101 South Broad Street, Post Office Box 800, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0800. All comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. on March 5, 2014.
The Christie Administration announced this morning that government aid to assist businesses in recovering from the Seaside Boardwalk fire will only cover costs not reimbursed by insurance proceeds or by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Governor Christie announced over the weekend that the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) will make $15 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery monies available to affected businesses in the form of $50,000 grants and loans free of interest and principle payments for two years.
In announcement that the EDA will be providing CDBG-DR funding for debris removal assistance, the administration said, “the State will conduct an analysis of duplication of benefits and ensure that the CDBG-DR funds are used only to cover costs not already paid by other sources, such as insurance or SBA. For the demolition of private structures, the state and/or municipality will place a lien on the property to enable recapture of any duplicative insurance proceeds, should they be paid later.”
Rumors are rampant that grants under the $780 million program for home rebuilding that the Christie Administration announced this morning are being awarded on a first come first served basis. That is not so.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon says Keep Calm and apply by June 30th.
“I want to be crystal clear on this, these grants and loans are absolutely NOT first come – first serve,” O’Scanlon said in a prepared statement, “I have heard some folks making this claim recently and the huge volume of calls to the call centers confirm this belief, we need everyone to understand that this is just not so. There are a number of criteria considered when determining eligibility: extent and amount of damage, geographic location, areas most affected, and income.”
Regional help centers will open in each county on June 8th, the exact locations are still being determined. Applications can be submitted until June 30th. The best way to apply for the programs (the Homeowner Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program and the Homeowner Resettlement Program) is online at www.renewjerseystronger.org if you have problems with the online process you can call 1-855-SANDYHM. But the online application process is definitely the fastest.”