Assembly Telecom & Utilities Committee Chairman Upendra J. Chivukula announced Wednesday that he will probe the preparedness of the Affordable Housing Alliance (AHA) for the distribution of $25 million in utility assistance provided under a measure he sponsored, following testimony received recently by the panel he chairs of the alleged mishandling of calls for information and assistance.
The Board of Public Utilities awarded a grant in February to the Affordable Housing Alliance rather than NJ SHARES, which Chivukula stated has a successful track record of distributing energy assistance.
Following a flood of complaints to legislative offices and testimony filed at a special hearing of the Assembly Telecom and Utilities Committee to examine the delay by the BPU in awarding the utility assistance, Chivukula stated he has decided to continue his investigation to ensure the proper distribution of ratepayer funds intended to provide energy assistance to low and middle income applicants and examine the selection process used to award the grant to AHA.
“Callers are being told it would take another 90 days for the agency to be set up to distribute the funds,” he said in a release.
“In addition to all this, there has been confusion about who qualifies for the funds with callers being told they had to be from Monmouth County while the energy assistance is clearly meant for qualified applicants statewide.”
“This is outrageous and shows complete unpreparedness for handling the program. I am deeply concerned about possible mismanagement of the funds going forward because of a lack of experience of the staffers of the AHA,” he added.