Yesterday, Representative Frank Pallone (D., N.J.) announced that the inspector general of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development would be launching a “full investigation” of how the administration of Chris Christie used federal disaster-relief funds, four and a half months after Pallone complained about tourism-promotion commercials that featured Christie.
Today, in advance of Christie’s State of the State address, the governor’s office announced it is dedicating an additional $145 million of existing federal recovery funds to two Sandy housing recovery programs. The release says the transfer of funds will allow “1,000 Sandy-impacted homeowners to move off of the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program waitlist and more than 1,200 storm-affected families to move off of the Homeowner Resettlement waitlist.”
Deep in the press release is this point:
In light of the significant waiting list for housing recovery programs and an analysis of the State’s business and housing recovery needs, the Christie Administration sought and received the federal government’s approval to transfer $160 million of the federal Sandy recovery funds designated for Grants and Forgivable Loans to Small Businesses to the above-named programs.
After a 14-day public comment period, the Christie Administration submitted the substantial amendment on November 22, 2013 to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for its review. HUD approved the amendment today. [bold mine]
The New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action Plan, which was approved April 29, 2013, details how the State is distributing the $1,829,520,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds to help homeowners, renters, businesses and communities impacted by Sandy.
Do you detect a certain tone in the Christie administration’s mention that they submitted the proposal back in late November, and are only getting approval today, seven weeks later? As if they might have a complaint themselves with HUD, and how quickly they’re responding to their requests regarding this aid?
Part of Pallone’s complaint from yesterday: “Even today we have a lot of people in my district and throughout the state who still have not received the funding to help restore or rebuild their home.”
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and Christie discussing Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, at the Governor’s Office in Newark, N.J., Nov. 16, 2012.