Accusations have surfaced that thousands of storm victims were denied Sandy aid funds. Sen. Jennifer Beck told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the process of getting funds to constituents is moving slower than she would like.
Sandy aid funds dropped to $1.4 billion from $1.8 billion. Beck said that was a $400 million loss even though there were not enough funds to distribute to all the people in need.
“It would be nice if the Housing Alliance would actually dedicate themselves to advocacy on those types of issues but when FEMA went out initially and evaluated properties, some of the damage was not visible. It was not immediately visible so they gave low numbers in terms of estimated damage,” Beck said.
Beck said that HUD wanted the FEMA evaluation numbers to be used. She said that when it came to her and Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon’s attention that their constituents had issues, they brought that to the DCA, who brought it back to HUD. HUD then made a change in its policy and said it was OK not to use the FEMA numbers, Beck said.
“You have to remember that every decision that is made is reviewed, analyzed and questioned by our federal partners. HUD, FEMA and EPA, for everything we decide to do, they double, triple, quadruple check everything. There is nothing simple because many things that would like to move forward with get waylaid because the federal agencies want to be sure that this money is spent properly,” Beck said.
Beck said that she does not want to have an issue like happened in New Orleans, when a lot of aid money after Hurricane Katrina didn’t go where it was supposed to.
“The frustration for all of us has been that it has moved slower than we would have liked. Though we are far ahead of New York State and New York City, it is moving slower than we would like,” Beck said.