Speaking at a press conference at the Shark River Municipal Marina in Neptune on Monday, Governor Phil Murphy, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, Senator Bob Menendez, Congressman Frank Pallone, and state Senator Vin Gopal discussed the State’s plan to remove the cap on access to Sandy-related funds, allowing homeowners who have long been in limbo to complete construction on their primary homes.
Additionally, the Governor announced, those still impacted by Sandy will be able to get additional months of rental assistance.
These efforts to support homeowners in the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program and the Low-to-Moderate Income (LMI) Homeowner Rebuilding Program to the finish line were recently approved by the federal government.
“My Administration’s goal is to get more funding into the hands of Sandy-impacted families who have run out of money and legitimately need additional resources to finish construction. Since we announced these programs six months ago, we have made tremendous progress for those who have spent years waiting to return home,” Murphy said.
“Federal approval of our plan puts us one significant step closer to making this a reality. For the families who have yet to complete their rebuilding efforts, we recognize the difficulties you’ve endured. But we hope the actions we’ve taken over the last year eliminate the challenges that remain and demonstrate our commitment to helping all who were so devastated by Superstorm Sandy.”
“The 1,200 or so New Jerseyans who remain in the state rebuilding program have been through hell and back again. Some were defrauded by their building contractor; some had to spend tens of thousands of dollars fighting flood insurance companies in court; and some remain paralyzed by the fear of dreaded claw-back letters,” said Senator Menendez.
“These Sandy survivors have faced many different obstacles. But at the end of the day they all share the same dream of returning home and getting on with their lives. Their marathon is not yet over but today the finish line is on the horizon, and the day they can return home is within reach.”
Previously, homeowners in the RREM Program and the LMI Program were limited to a maximum grant award of $150,000 to rebuild their primary residence. Because the grant award is not sufficient for some homeowners to complete their project, DCA requested and received approval from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reallocate $50 million of federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to the RREM Program and the LMI Program to provide additional construction funding that should remove any financial roadblocks to a full recovery for these families.
Also, homeowners in the RREM Program and LMI Program who are in construction can receive up to $1,300 per month through the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) while their homes are being rebuilt. The Murphy Administration successfully petitioned the federal government to allow homeowners to now receive up to a total of 40 months of rental assistance funded with CDBG-DR dollars. Rental assistance was previously limited by federal regulations to 21 months.
DCA allocated $50 million to create a Supplemental Fund exclusively for homeowners in the RREM Program and the LMI Program who have a program-calculated unmet need and who have yet to complete construction. Awards from the Supplemental Fund will be uncapped, will be calculated based on the remaining program-eligible work needed to finish the project, and will take into account other funding sources. Homeowners who accept a Supplemental Fund award will be required to live in the home for five years following construction completion.
DCA plans to make applications for the Supplemental Fund available in early summer.
DCA’s Sandy Recovery Division hosted evening and weekend outreach sessions about the Supplemental Fund throughout the month of March to packed rooms in communities such as Atlantic City, Brick, Little Ferry, Toms River, and Union Beach. Information about the outreach sessions and the Supplemental Fund was provided via direct phone calls and emails to every homeowner in the RREM Program and the LMI Program who is still rebuilding and who may be eligible for supplemental funding.