New Jersey officials say they dispersed just 25 percent of the state’s first large allocation of federal Superstorm Sandy aid in the first 11 months.
That is a finding of a quarterly state report released last week on the dozens of programs funded through a $1.8 billion community development block grant awarded last year. Of that sum, $1.3 billion was committed by the end of March and $416 million had been handed out.
Unlike other federal disaster relief, the state gets to decide how to use this fund. Much of it is allocated to rebuild and repair homes damaged by the October 2012 storm.
Under the biggest and most complicated housing program, the state said 2,000 of the 5,400 homeowners given preliminary awards had signed contracts to start receiving funds.
In a separate report issued last Friday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that minority households in areas hard hit by the storm applied under the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation at a lower rate than white families, and that was a cause for concern. The main contractor that handled applications for that program was dismissed earlier this year over what state officials called “performance issues.”
But the federal government also noted “significant progress” by the state in handling its grant money.
HUD is now reviewing New Jersey’s plans for a second block grant allocation, this one for $1.46 billion.
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