TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is proposing to reallocate Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) Program, the Low- to Moderate-Income (LMI) Homeowners Rebuilding Program, and the Fund for Restoration of Multifamily Housing (FRM) in order to help households still recovering from the devastating effects of Superstorm Sandy.
Under the proposal, DCA would transfer $46 million to the RREM Program and $4 million to the LMI Homeowners Rebuilding Program to create a “Supplemental Fund” in both programs to provide program participants who have not yet finished rebuilding their storm-damaged home with more money to complete their project. Additionally, DCA is proposing to transfer $10 million to the FRM program for the creation of affordable housing units to address the loss of multi-family housing caused by Superstorm Sandy. None of the proposed reallocations of CDBG-DR funds would affect any existing funding commitment to any individual, business, community, or project.
“The State has made significant progress in helping Sandy-impacted families recover. Nonetheless, some homeowners find themselves at an impasse because they lack the necessary funding to complete construction,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We want to get these homeowners the additional resources they need to finish rebuilding and get back home.”
“Sandy also affected the rental housing market. Increased demand for rental units, coupled with the loss of rental stock due to the storm, drove up rents in all the impacted counties, pricing many people out of places to live,” Lieutenant Governor Oliver said. “Directing additional disaster recovery funds to the FRM program will help get more affordable housing units built in communities hit hard by the storm.”
Approximately 6,500 homeowners in RREM and the LMI Program have completed their rebuilding projects. There are approximately 1,000 homeowners that have yet to complete construction. Homeowners may be eligible to receive assistance through the Supplemental Fund should they be able to demonstrate an unmet financial need for work that has not yet been completed.
Any assistance from the Supplemental Fund would be calculated based on unmet need and would carry a five-year residency requirement, which would be secured by a subordinate mortgage on the subject property. No monthly principal payments would be required upon completion. Rather, the mortgage would be forgiven after five years following the completion of construction. Importantly, homeowners who receive assistance through the Supplemental Fund could only use it to complete an eligible scope of work under the RREM or LMI programs. They would be prohibited from using this funding to enhance or expand their rebuilding plan.
For the proposed FRM reallocation, at least 80 percent of these funds would be prioritized for projects to repair, replace or construct new multi-family housing within the nine counties most impacted by Superstorm Sandy, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Those counties are Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union. Once FRM-funded affordable housing projects are completed, priority for residency is given to Sandy-impacted individuals during the first 90 days of lease-up.
As of December 1, 2018, 60 FRM projects have been completed, generating a total of 3,908 affordable units. Another 16 FRM projects are in various stages of pre-construction and construction and will yield an additional 936 affordable units.
Before DCA can reallocate the CDBG-DR funds, it must amend the New Jersey Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Action Plan to reflect the proposed changes. The Action Plan and all previously adopted amendments to the Action Plan guide the State’s use of CDBG-DR funding provided by HUD. The current proposed reallocations of funds constitute Amendment 28 and Amendment 30 of the Action Plan and require a 30-day public comment period that must include a public hearing.
The public comment period for Amendment 28 began December 11, 2018 and closes at 5:00 p.m. on January 9, 2019. The public comment period for Amendment 30 began December 21, 2018 and closes at 5 p.m. on January 19, 2019.
The public hearing for both proposed amendments is scheduled from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, at the Toms River Municipal Complex, 33 Washington Street, Toms River, NJ, 08753. Individuals are encouraged to comment on the proposed amendments at the public hearing, by submitting their comments via email to email@example.com, or by mailing comments to the attention of Lisa Ryan, Sandy Recovery Division, NJ Department of Community Affairs, 101 South Broad Street, P.O. Box 823, Trenton, NJ 08625. All comments are given equal weight regardless of the means of submission. After the public comment period closes, DCA will formally respond to the public comments and then will submit the proposed amendments to HUD for review and approval.
Action Plan Amendment 28 and Action Plan Amendment 30 can be viewed in English and Spanish at www.renewjerseystronger.org/plans-reports.
The RREM Program is the State’s largest Superstorm Sandy housing recovery program. RREM currently provides grants to Sandy-impacted homeowners to cover rebuilding costs up to $150,000 that are not otherwise funded by insurance, FEMA assistance, SBA loans, or other sources. Similarly, the LMI Homeowner Rebuilding Program provides up to $150,000 in reconstruction, rehabilitation and elevation assistance to Sandy-impacted homeowners of limited financial means who did not apply to the RREM Program.
The FRM program, which is administered by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (NJHMFA), provides for-profit and non-profit housing developers an opportunity to secure zero-interest and low-interest loans to finance the development of affordable housing in the nine counties most impacted by the storm.