Fair Share Sues NJ on Sandy Rebuilding

Questions Why Low and Moderate
Income Households Not Eligible

Fair Share Sues NJ on Sandy RebuildingOn September, 11, 2013, the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) sued the State of New Jersey around the Sandy rebuilding funding.

The Center has requested documents that explained the process that the State has been using to make federal Community Development and Block Grant funding eligible to families needing assistance rebuilding after Sandy.

This funding comes through three programs totaling $850 million in assistance with a significant portion targeted to low- and moderate-income households.

FSHC Staff Attorney Adam Gordon said.

’What is the big secret around why some of the most impacted victims of Sandy are getting turned down for rebuilding money? The documents that the Christie Administration is using to evaluate who gets money and who does not should be public. No more excuses, no more secrets.’

“The Christie Administration promised unprecedented transparency around Sandy funding. That promise has been broken. Instead Sandy victims have experienced unprecedented bureaucracy and secrecy. That’s the wrong approach to a fair and effective recovery.”

On July 31, Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) filed an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request for guidelines that explain the selection process for the two largest Sandy rebuilding grants to individual homeowners, the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program and Resettlement Grant, and the main Sandy rebuilding grant for landlords, the Fund for Rehabilitation of Small Rental Properties. These three programs combined represent $850 million, or 46 percent of the federal Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds from the federal Sandy recovery package. FSHC also asked that the information be posted online for everyone seeking grants to access.

The State of New Jersey asked for an extension to respond to the requests and promised to provide the documents no later than September 5, 27 days after they were due under OPRA. The State did not provide any documents at that time. Instead, the State asked for more time, claiming now that it would provide the documents by September 20, or 51 days after the initial request. The complaint filed today asks for immediate disclosure of the documents.

Click here for the complaint and a copy of the original OPRA request.

Click here to read more on the Fair Share Housing Center’s website.

Click here for NJ Spotlight’s coverage of the lawsuit.