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Houghtaling & Downey Raise Questions About New Jersey’s Failure to Secure Significant Disaster Relief Grant Money

Assembly Democrats Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey on Tuesday said they will ask Assembly leaders to hold hearings on why New Jersey finished dead last out of 13 states that were awarded National Disaster Resilience Competition grants from the federal government.

Out of the $1 billion in aid available through the competition, at least $181 million was set aside for projects in New Jersey and New York, but New Jersey received $15 million while New York City received $176 million and New York state received an additional $35.8 million. Eleven other states were awarded grant money, including landlocked states such as Tennessee and Iowa. A town of 46,000 in North Dakota was awarded $76 million to reduce flood risk and improve water management.

New Jersey received less than five percent of grant money requested. In his explanation of New Jersey’s disproportionate funding, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said that New Jersey “submitted a weaker application on several measures.”

Houghtaling and Downey both represent the 11th District in Monmouth County, which was hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

“It’s clear that something went wrong here,” said Houghtaling said (D-Monmouth). “Many areas, particularly here in Monmouth County, are still recovering from Sandy and are still facing flooding and storm resiliency issues. We have to do right by these communities.”

As reported by the Asbury Park Press, New York state and New York City have received almost double the federal assistance related to Sandy as New Jersey. During a major round of Sandy grant funding in 2014, New York was awarded a total of $1.6 billion, compared to New Jersey’s $882 million.

“This is not the first time New Jersey has been shortchanged,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “This is becoming a pattern, one that cannot be allowed to continue. This is something that should be addressed by the Legislature to root out the cause of this disparity in funding. If something went wrong on the state’s end, it’s our responsibility to find out what happened.”