TRENTON – The Department of Community Affairs rejected critics’ contention on Wednesday that the state’s plan for $1.8 billion in federal money for post-Sandy rebuilding shortchanges renters and minorities.
DCA Commissioner Richard Constable III said their claims “are built on a false premise that all who registered (for funds) are deserving.’’
A coalition of religious, political and civil rights advocates sent a letter asking the state to revise its proposed Sandy recovery fund spending plan to better represent the needs of minorities and low-income residents.
Constable defended DCA’s handling of requests.
About 265,000 households have applied for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Constable said, and about 37,000 of them that are owner-occupied were assessed as having severe to major damage by FEMA.
He said more than 9,000 renters have a level of damage qualifying as severe to major, which roughly equates to $8,000 to $28,000 in damage.
Another category of funding sets aside 70 percent of a $600 million reconstruction program for low- to moderate-income applicants, so it can’t be said DCA is ignoring needier storm victims, according to Constable.
“Their claims,’’ he said, “are a bit much mathematically.”
Still, the coalition of some 76 groups and advocates wants the state to amend the plan before submitting it the Department of Housing and Urban Development.