TRENTON – Advocates and legislators continued to address concerns about how Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has handled the Hurricane Sandy recovery process on Monday, with a key administration figure appearing before the Senate legislative oversight committee.
“The frustration during the public hearings was palpable. Residents expect a lot of things from the [state-administered recovery grant] program, and they’re tired of waiting,” said Department of Community Affairs (DCA) Commissioner Richard Constable. “The Christie administration fought hard for federal aid, and unfortunately, partisanship in Washington, D.C. slowed the process down.
“I know that residents have complained that not enough money has gone to certain causes, to homeowners and renters, to lower-income and middle-class families, to local governments and to statewide infrastructure projects. And you know what? They’re all correct,” said Constable, who did not appear at the last meeting of the oversight
committee earlier this month, to the dismay of Senate Legislative Oversight Chairman Bob Gordon (D-38). “That’s because [the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development] has allocated for New Jersey significantly less than warranted.”
But in comments made before Constable’s testimony, Fair Share Housing Center Associate Director Kevin Walsh did not buy the argument that the federal government should bear the brunt of the blame for New Jersey’s Sandy recovery issues.
“There are serious problems at the federal level, no doubt,” said Walsh, whose advocacy organization has provided critical data analysis of the Sandy recovery process and has questioned the transparency of the recovery process. “But that doesn’t mean we stop looking at the terrible things that have happened at the state level. The response in
recent weeks has been to blame others and to fail to acknowledge or remedy the problems at the state level. We fear that taking that approach will lead to more delays in more affairs.”