Housing advocates: Transparency, fairness must accompany increased Sandy funding

TRENTON – Housing advocates – while acknowledging the necessity of the administration’s decision on Wednesday to move more federal Sandy aid into programs for housing recovery, called for more to be done.

“We continue to hear stories from people still living in hotels or in the second floor of their mold infested homes and even people sleeping on beaches,” Staci Berger, executive director of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey, said in a release Friday.

The Christie administration on Wednesday reported it wants to move $145 million into two programs: $110 million to help up to 1,100 families get off a waiting list and receive money toward reconstruction; and $35 million to help more than 2,100 families stay in their hometowns and not relocate.

The housing advocates and lawmakers pointed out that during hearings held around the state this summer and fall, victims told horror stories of lengthy waits, unresponsive bureaucrats and contradictory regulations.

“Homeowners, renters, and small business owners are having an extremely difficult time navigating the system,” Berger said.

“Any proposal to shift funds must be paired with reforms to these programs to make them more efficient and fair, or people will continue to be trapped in an endless cycle of uncertainty.”

The Fair Share Housing Center also called for better transparency; that organization has sued the state over just that issue.

There is a public comment period until Nov. 20 to weigh in on the proposed amendments to the state’s Recovery Action plan that has $1.82 billion from the federal government.

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Housing advocates: Transparency, fairness must accompany increased Sandy funding