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Sandy Recovery Must Be Sustainable and Equitable, says Advocates


April 4, 2013

For more information
Nina Arce (609) 393-3752 x12, narceathcdnnjdotorg  (narceathcdnnjdotorg)  
Elaine R. Clisham, (609) 393-0008 x 102, Elaine Clisham  (eclishamatnjfuturedotorg)  

Sandy Recovery Must Be Sustainable and Equitable, says Advocates
Urges HUD to make improvements in NJ’s plan

TRENTON –  A wide array of community stakeholders is urging the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to make improvements to the Disaster Recovery Action Plan submitted by the NJ Department of Community Affair (DCA).  Over 80 nonprofit developers, service providers, community leaders and other advocates sent a letter to U.S. HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan today, raising concerns that the state did not incorporate or address most of the recommendations submitted during the limited public input plan. 

“The Disaster Recovery Action Plan presents a unique opportunity for New Jersey to prepare itself for future disasters as we rebuild,” said New Jersey Future Executive Director Peter Kasabach. “Unfortunately, the document the governor submitted to HUD doesn’t include funds to do this kind of planning. This means towns and counties will not have the resources to include in their rebuilding framework such factors as projected sea level rise or increasing storm severity. If we’re not able to plan ahead so we know what we must do differently, we leave ourselves just as vulnerable to the next Superstorm Sandy as we were to the last one.”

The letter also asks Secretary Donovan to review the comments stakeholders had submitted to DCA and to amend the plan so that it is more equitable and provides a more comprehensive rebuilding program that gets assistance to the full range of people affected by Sandy. Many of the comments reflected a concern that the DCA plan relied on “FEMA verified claims” which were conducted disproportionately on homeowners.

“The DCA Action Plan undercounts renters impacted by Sandy, and as a result many people will not have an opportunity to move back to their communities,” said Staci Berger, director of policy and advocacy for the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey. “Relying solely on FEMA inspections, which counted damage for renters in a much less comprehensive way than for owners, skews DCA’s Action Plan.  It provides assistance to homeowners by a four to one margin when Sandy’s impact was nearly equal between homeowners and renters.  Many of us raised awareness of the imbalance in the draft plan, but it was not addressed.  We need Secretary Donovan and our federal leaders to ensure an equal shot for everyone to rebuild.” 

Disaster recovery dollars will be distributed to the state in the form of Community Development Block Grants which are the most flexible form of federal funding and are targeted to assist lower income communities, which tend to include more renters. A recent study conducted by Enterprise Community Partners examined FEMA data and found that 43 percent of those affected by Sandy were renters and of that number, 67 percent made less than $30,000 a year.

The letter sent by the group of 80 signatories is available here. Comments originally submitted to DCA by stakeholders are available here.

New Jersey Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan statewide research, policy and education organization that advocates for better land-use practices that result in environmental protection, center-based growth, community redevelopment and transportation choice. For more information on New Jersey Future, visit

Fair Share Housing Center, founded in 1975 is based in Cherry Hill. It is the only public interest organization devoted entirely to defending the housing rights of New Jersey’s poor through implementing the Mount Laurel doctrine, which requires that each municipality provides its fair share of housing affordable to low- and moderate-income people. For more information on Fair Share Housing Center, visit

The Housing and Community Development Network supports New Jersey’s community development sector, collaborating with more than 250 members including community development corporations and other organizations to create affordable homes, expand economic opportunities, and build strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit

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