Ida survivors identified key next steps coming out of our Community Meetings – and one key next step was getting grant funds moving to help families. As part of that, the New Jersey Organizing Project1 organized meetings with both Congressman Malinowski and Congressman Gottheimer and Ida survivors to discuss the impacts of Ida, mitigation issues, and how to get the Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Funds (from now on known as CDBG-DR $) into the hands of storm survivors. The meetings were successful, and Congressman Malinowski even met with the group himself.
Shortly after our meetings with our Congresspeople and additional outreach from Fair Share Housing Center, the NJ delegation released a letter urging HUD to release the CDBG-DR funds2 to NJ.
On Tuesday, March 22nd HUD announced the disaster recovery funding3 for Ida. The good news is that more than 6 months after the storm, New Jersey can finally start planning grant programs to help families and communities recover and be better prepared for future storms.
The bad news – it’s $228 million, and even if everyone does their best storm survivors are not likely to see the funds until after the one year anniversary. We are deeply concerned, based on our experience with Superstorm Sandy, that this is not enough funding. And we’re also frustrated that getting grant funds out to survivors continues to take a long time because of how Congress allocates those funds.4 Anne Ryan, New Jersey Organizing Project member and Rochelle Park Resident, had this to say:
“Ida survivors and members of the New Jersey Organizing Project have been anxiously awaiting HUD’s announcement yesterday and are grateful that the New Jersey delegation has pushed for these funds. Now, more than six months after the storm, New Jersey can start planning grant programs to help families and communities recover and better prepare for future storms.
We are concerned, though, that the $228,346,000 announced may not be enough to thoroughly and fairly address Ida’s impact. This is the third time my home has flooded – and I have been doing everything I can to secure funds to lift or mitigate my home and to date have not been able to. I do not believe it is fair that flood victims should have to compete for funding.”
Here’s some more good news, though. The New Jersey Resource Project and NJ Thrives5 members Fair Share Housing Center6, Ironbound Community Corporation7, and South Ward Environmental Alliance8 were key partners who worked together and organized listening sessions with storm survivors to identify needs and *fingers crossed* have these needs shape the recovery funds.
As Sandy folks know, Sam Viavattine, Deputy Commissioner at DCA overseeing the Division of Disaster Recovery and Mitigation, will be in charge of distributing CDBG-DR $. This is a fancy way of saying that once federal dollars come into the state for Ida recovery, he will be the person who is largely in charge of how and where they are distributed. There will also be public hearings and events to give feedback – we’ll keep you in the loop.
We were thrilled to have two conversations about the needs for Ida Recovery, one with renters and one with homeowners. In our debrief people shared the experience of feeling heard and that it was a positive meeting.
Renter members highlighted the following needs:
- Rental assistance program
- Apartment repairs OR building level repairs
- Repay renters’ security deposits
- Replace appliances, furniture, and personal possessions
- Make up the difference between what renters were paying and what they have to pay now since rent is rising
Homeowner members highlighted the following needs:
- Mitigation measures
- Buyouts for those who want them
If you want to be part of the amazing team that makes this work happen, reach out to Meghan from Flemington at email@example.com or 609-290-2425.