Highlights Need for More Transparency Surrounding Hired Contractors, Rebuilding Grants
“It has been almost two years now since Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey and devastated our communities, and we still do not have sufficient answers regarding how relief funds are being spent. The 24-page integrity monitor report that was finally released last week, the first and only one we have seen since Governor Christie signed the bill requiring the state to assign monitors into law in March 2013, was entirely unacceptable. We need more detailed integrity monitor reports so the public can understand what mistakes have been made in the Sandy recovery process and how Sandy aid funds are being spent in New Jersey.
“I am particularly concerned about the lack of detail regarding the contractors utilized by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The integrity monitor report does not include any information regarding the work performed by these contractors, and the state has still not provided the public with any details on what these contractors have accomplished with millions of dollars in recovery funds. Thousands of homeowners are still awaiting grants to repair and raise their homes more than a year and half after Sandy struck. They have a right to know what DCA is paying these contractors for and whether they are doing their job properly.
“My office has also received many complaints throughout the Sandy recovery process about a lack of transparency and publicly available criteria for DCA-run recovery programs, particularly the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program. I am troubled that only $133 million in RREM funds has actually been dispersed and implore the Christie administration to expedite this important aid to homeowners who are still trying to rebuild.
“Thousands of New Jerseyans have noted that rebuilding funds have been slow moving with many still awaiting payments to assist with the cost of repairs to their homes. It is outrageous that Sandy relief for homeowners has been delayed for so long.
“I fought hard in Congress to pass the Sandy aid package by assuring my colleagues that Sandy recovery funds were desperately needed and would be spent wisely. We need to know where the money is, what contractors are doing with it, and why it is not in the hands of those who need it to repair their homes. One 24-page report in 16 months is hardly adequate oversight. It is time for the Christie Administration to be straight with New Jerseyans and help residents rebuild.”