N.J. Senate President: Bill to Give Sandy Victims Estimates of Aid Receipt

New Jersey residents still recovering from Superstorm Sandy would get individual estimates of when they can expect to receive rebuilding aid under legislation proposed by the state Senate president.

Steve Sweeney says his bill is designed to increase transparency and accountability in New Jersey’s stalled efforts to get rebuilding aid into the hands of those who need it. It comes nearly 2 1/2 years after the October 2012 storm.

“It has been more than two years since Congress passed Sandy aid, and we still have at least 15,000 families waiting to rebuild,” he said. “The problems with the Sandy relief programs are well-documented, and the people who have been hurt are residents whose homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. They were victims of the storm and then they were victimized by the aid process.”

The bill would require the state Community Affairs Department to let people know via a website where their aid applications are in the approval process, how much they will receive and when they will get it. It also would set quarterly goals for aid distribution.

The website would provide a list of all pending and completed appeals to the department concerning Sandy aid; a list of builders in the qualified contractor pool and the status of projects awarded to them involving Sandy money; a description of how Sandy aid has been distributed; and an explanation of the criteria and the process through which the department distributes assistance.

A similar bill proposed by Sweeney, dubbed the “Sandy Bill of Rights,” was vetoed last year by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who said it called for new administrative procedures and spending requirements accompanied by a “raft of partisan political findings.” A spokesman for Christie did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

By Wayne Parry | March 16, 2015

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