Layout Image

Federal Sandy Funds Fall Short, Officials Say

By Laura Jusisto and Josh Dawsey

May 23, 2014

About $1 Billion May Not Go to New York and New Jersey Region

New York and New Jersey will receive about $2.5 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion of federal rebuilding funds after superstorm Sandy, a government official said Friday.

That sum is less than what local officials say is needed to finish repairing homes and building major infrastructure projects.

Elected officials have advocated that the region should receive the vast majority of the final round of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, saying billions of dollars of work is still left to be done.

New York City will receive about $994 million, New Jersey will receive about $882 million and New York state will receive about $606 million, according to a government official. Connecticut and Rhode Island will also receive a small share.


New York City officials have said they need $1 billion to finish rebuilding all of the homes hit by Sandy and billions more to complete some of the ambitious resiliency proposals by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, including an elevated neighborhood on the east side of lower Manhattan to act as a buffer against future storms.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city plans to spend $640 million on housing and the remaining $354 million on resiliency. She said the city has been able to reallocate additional funds so that all homeowners in the city will get enough money to finish rebuilding or repairing their homes.

Those new funds combined with the federal money “ensures that we’ll be able to provide the support that every homeowner” deserves, Mr. de Blasio said through the spokeswoman.

HUD hasn’t yet made a decision about how to distribute the remaining $1.1 billion, federal officials said. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that HUD is considering holding a national resiliency competition to distribute the funding across the country, according to people briefed on the proposal.

A Christie administration official said they were told a fourth round of funding would include a national Rebuild by Design contest and the state would compete for funding.

“That’s lower than what we think New York City needs to fully recover,” said Susannah Dyen, coordinator for the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, a coalition of community groups and advocates. Ms. Dyen said the city should advocate for more money from the federal government and use some of its own funds to finish rebuilding.

Congress set aside about $60 billion in 2013 for Sandy aid after a contentious debate. The largest portion—more than $15 billion—went to HUD for distribution to the local level. HUD has allocated about $10.5 billion so far, primarily to New York City, New York state and New Jersey, officials said.

HUD officials have said that spreading the funds around to disasters other than Sandy that occurred in 2011, 2012 or 2013 is required by federal law.

Over the past month, New York and New Jersey politicians objected to that interpretation, saying the funds were intended to be distributed elsewhere only if the needs in the Sandy-affected region were met.

“I will keep working with all federal agencies to ensure New York’s needs continue to be met,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D, N.Y.). A spokesman for New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez declined to comment.

On Friday, President Barack Obama announced that he is nominating San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as the next HUD secretary. The current secretary, Shaun Donovan, a Bloomberg administration alumnus, will be nominated to be the next director of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

To read the full article, visit the Wall Street Journal.