ASSEMBLY, No. 2568

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 10, 2014

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JERRY GREEN

District 22 (Middlesex, Somerset and Union)

Assemblyman  VINCENT PRIETO

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblywoman  ANGELICA M. JIMENEZ

District 32 (Bergen and Hudson)

Assemblyman  JOSEPH A. LAGANA

District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  VINCENT MAZZEO

District 2 (Atlantic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Jasey

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires State plan for expenditure of Superstorm Sandy federal aid contain certain provisions for equitable and transparent distribution of aid.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the distribution of Superstorm Sandy federal aid and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  For the purposes of this section:

     “Aid” means Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds for relief efforts associated with Superstorm Sandy.

     “Superstorm Sandy” means the major storm that made landfall in New Jersey on October 29, 2012.

     b.    To the extent permitted by federal law, an action plan or amendment submitted by the State to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development on or after the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) proposing the use of aid shall include the following provisions:

     (1)   Aid shall be distributed by county and municipality in proportion to the damage sustained within each county and municipality.  If a county or municipality did not receive aid from a prior aid distribution in such proportion, the county or municipality shall receive priority in the receipt of aid from a future aid distribution to compensate for the difference;

     (2)   Aid shall be distributed to renters and homeowners in urban communities in proportion to the damage sustained by each category of residents in urban communities and shall be distributed to renters and homeowners in suburban communities in proportion to the damage sustained by each category of residents in suburban communities.  The proportions shall be based upon the percentage of affected renters or homeowners in urban or suburban communities, as applicable;

     (3)   Aid for infrastructure only shall be distributed to a county or municipality if it allows and facilitates rebuilding and, if necessary, replacing homes for both renters and homeowners;

     (4)   The Department of Community Affairs shall investigate the low participation rates and high rejection rates of applicants from African-American and Hispanic-American communities.  Aid shall be used to conduct outreach efforts to these underserved communities, including paid media campaigns and direct outreach to community organizations.  Aid also shall be set aside for Spanish speaking individuals who did not receive aid from a prior aid distribution due to the State’s provision of incorrect information in Spanish;

     (5)   The Department of Community Affairs shall post on its Internet website information about how aid has been and will be allocated, including information about every step in the allocation process, for all prior and future aid distributions;

     (6)   The Department of Community Affairs shall establish clear and uniform procedures by which aid is applied for and granted for each aid program it administers.  The department shall post these procedures on its Internet website.  The department shall post on its Internet website and include in its application materials a complete list of all documents required to apply for aid from these programs.  The procedures shall include an opportunity to correct any deficiency with an application;

     (7)   The Department of Community Affairs shall establish a tracking system on its Internet website that allows each applicant to check on the status of an application and whether any additional documentation or materials are needed for aid to be granted.  The department shall also allow applicants to track such information by telephone and in person;

     (8)   The Department of Community Affairs shall establish clear and uniform standards for the grant of aid to applicants who live or used to live, at the time of Superstorm Sandy, in a manufactured home or mobile home as defined in section 3 of P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-121);

     (9)   The Department of Community Affairs shall establish a clear, predictable, and transparent appeals process in which applicants are given clear and specific reasons for any denial of aid or other related determinations.  The department shall establish a reasonable timeframe for the appeals process;

     (10) The Department of Community Affairs shall provide applicants on a wait list for aid a statement that explains the wait list process, indicates their location on the wait list, and advises how updated information regarding the wait list may be obtained;

     (11) The Department of Community Affairs shall establish clear guidelines and procedures for local contractors to obtain relief work in accordance with section 3 of the “Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968” (12 U.S.C. s.1701u); and

     (12) Aid shall be set aside to assist applicants who did not receive aid from a prior aid distribution due to the lack of clarity or transparency in the process by which aid was distributed.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would require that any State action plan or amendment thereto submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development for the proposed use of Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery aid for relief efforts associated with Superstorm Sandy include certain provisions to make the distribution of aid more equitable and transparent.

     These provisions would require that:

·       Aid be distributed by county and municipality in proportion to the damage sustained within each county and municipality;

·       A county or municipality which did not receive aid from a prior aid distribution in such proportion, receive priority in the receipt of aid from a future aid distribution to compensate for the difference;

·       Aid be distributed to renters and homeowners in urban communities in proportion to the damage sustained by each category of residents in urban communities and be distributed to renters and homeowners in suburban communities in proportion to the damage sustained by each category of residents in suburban communities.  These proportions would be based upon the percentage of affected renters or homeowners in urban or suburban communities, as applicable;

·       Aid for infrastructure only be distributed to a county or municipality if it allows and facilitates rebuilding and, if necessary, replacing homes for both renters and homeowners;

·       The Department of Community Affairs (“DCA”) investigate the low participation rates and high rejection rates of applicants from African-American and Hispanic-American communities;

·       Aid be used to conduct outreach efforts to these underserved communities, including paid media campaigns and direct outreach to community organizations;

·       Additional be set aside for Spanish speaking individuals who did not receive aid from a prior aid distribution due to the State’s provision of incorrect information in Spanish;

·       The DCA post on its Internet website information about how aid has been and will be allocated, including information about every step in the allocation process, for all prior and future aid distributions;

·       The DCA establish clear and uniform procedures by which aid is applied for and granted for each aid program it administers;

·       The DCA post these procedures on its Internet website;

·       The DCA post on its Internet website and include in its application materials a complete list of all documents required to apply for aid from these programs;

·       These procedures include an opportunity to correct any deficiency with an application;

·       The DCA establish a tracking system on its Internet website, and that may also be accessed by telephone or in-person, that allows each applicant to check on the status of an application and whether any additional documentation or materials are needed for aid to be granted;

·       The DCA establish clear and uniform standards for the grant of aid to applicants who live or used to live, at the time of Superstorm Sandy, in a manufactured home or mobile home;

·       The DCA establish a clear, predictable, and transparent appeals process in which applicants are given clear and specific reasons for any denial of aid or other related determinations;

·       The DCA establish a reasonable timeframe for the appeals process;

·       The DCA provide applicants on a wait list for aid a statement that explains the wait list process, indicates their location on the wait list, and advises how updated information regarding the wait list may be obtained;

·       The DCA establish clear guidelines and procedures for local contractors to obtain relief work in accordance with section 3 of the “Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968” (12 U.S.C. s.1701u); and

·       Aid be set aside to assist applicants who did not receive aid from a prior aid distribution due to the lack of clarity or transparency in the process by which aid was distributed.