The new notice responds to issues raised by housing advocates and others concerned with the State’s prior lack of transparency and public participation in the rebuilding process.
“We are hopeful that HUD’s new notice issued today will usher in a new era of fair and transparent funding to everyone impacted by Sandy,” Fair Share Housing Center Staff Attorney Adam Gordon said. “The notice will require the Christie Administration to end its secretive approach to Sandy funding, and instead deliver the transparent recovery that Governor Christie promised, but has not to date delivered.” Fair Share Housing Center in September filed litigation which is still pending against the Christie Administration for its failure to provide documents on how Sandy grants for renters and homeowners have been distributed to date.
“We look forward to this next round of funding being shaped by the needs of communities and residents impacted by the storm, and informed through a robust public conversation about what is needed,” said Staci Berger, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “We appreciate that federal policymakers recognized the need for the State to involve affected residents in the process that will rebuild our neighborhoods. We hope Governor Christie will attend these hearings to hear for himself the needs and concerns of our residents.”
The new notice:
Provides for a thirty-day public comment period on the next phase of funding, including at least one public hearing, for which the State is encouraged to conduct “outreach to community groups, including those that serve minority populations, persons with limited English proficiency, and persons with disabilities, to encourage public attendance at the hearings and the submission of written comments concerning the Action Plan Amendment.”
Requires that the State “must provide citizens, affected local governments, and other interested parties with reasonable and timely access to information and records relating to the Action Plan and to the grantee’s use of grant funds” through a “comprehensive website.”
Reinforces that there must be equal access to information for all people impacted by Sandy – including people reading Spanish-language materials and people with disabilities.
In addition to existing requirements for repairing damaged public housing, requires the State to “address the rehabilitation, mitigation and new construction needs of other assisted multifamily housing developments impacted by the disaster, including HUD-assisted multifamily housing, low income housing tax credit (LIHTC) financed developments and other subsidized and tax credit-assisted affordable housing.”