Fair Share Housing files OPRA complaint over Sandy consultant

TRENTON – A housing advocacy agency has filed a complaint against the Christie administration, alleging it failed to comply with a public records request regarding how a contract for a consultant regarding Community Development Block Grant funds for recovery from Superstorm Sandy was awarded.

Fair Share Housing Center filed an Open Public Records Act complaint, alleging that the state isn’t complying with a request for contract-related documents.

“Governor Christie promised a transparent Sandy recovery,” Fair Share Housing Center Associate Director Kevin D. Walsh said said in a release. “So why, forty-eight days after a public records request for basic bid documents, are those documents still not public?”

Fair Share said it submitted the OPRA request Feb. 14 requesting all bids for the Department of Community Affairs’ consultant for overseeing the block grant process.

The consultant drafted a plan for allocating the first $1.8 billion which the Department of Housing and Urban Development is reviewing, and which Fair Share and other groups have objected to because, among other things, they argue it shortchanges renters and lower-income residents, charges the administration has consistently dismissed as inaccurate.

Fair Share says that while there were five bidders for the contract to oversee the over $5 billion in funds, “the Christie Administration has refused to provide the documents that would reveal who the other bidders are, what their bids proposed, or why CDM Smith, the consultant selected, was chosen.”.

“The public has a right to know why CDM Smith was chosen and who the other bidders were,” Walsh added.

Fair Share Housing brought its complaint in Superior Court in Mercer County.

A spokesperson for DCA declined comment.

Treasury spokesman Bill Quinn said that “Our Open Public Records Act unit has been working with Fair Share to fulfill its request for documents on the award of the contract to CDM Smith and we will continue to do so.

“There have been some unavoidable delays in the process because Fair Share is seeking access to documents filed by bidders that may contain proprietary information and we must first review those documents with bidders before they can be released.”

Fair Share Housing files OPRA complaint over Sandy consultant