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N.J. politicians urge U.S. not to use Sandy aid for other projects


N.J. politicians urge U.S. not to use Sandy aid for other projects

Members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation say they won’t let the federal government use Superstorm Sandy aid for a nationwide funding competition that could benefit states that were not affected by the storm.

Reps. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-Paterson; Albio Sires, D-West New York; and Frank Pallone, D-Long Branch, and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-Union City, are urging Shaun Donovan, the secretary of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, not to divert a third round of federal aid to resiliency projects in other parts of the country.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Sunday that more than $1 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion in Community Development Block Grant funds could be used for a national resiliency competition. Pascrell sent a letter to Donovan on Tuesday objecting to the proposal, and Pallone issued a statement Monday saying he would personally address the issue during a meeting with the secretary next week.

Sires is sending a letter today, and he said Wednesday that the entire New Jersey delegation could join together in opposition of a nationwide competition for the money.

“They better be very careful about who they are messing with because we’re not going to take this,” Pascrell said Wednesday. “Many of the congressmen have had it up to our eyeballs. We are not going to sit down and allow HUD to take the money that we voted for, for those folks, those towns, those counties that were impacted by this storm.”

The Community Development Block Grants are discretionary funds that the states can tailor to their needs. New Jersey received $1.83 billion in the first round. The state used $710 million of that for its Reconstruction Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program, which offers grants of up to $150,000 to rebuild homes significantly damaged in the storm. That money funded 5,124 grants, but more than 7,000 residents remain on a waiting list.

The state is set to receive a second round of funds — $1.46 billion — next month and plans to allocate $390 million to take residents off the waiting list. The block grant money has also been used to help businesses recover from the storm. (Boburg/The Record)

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