Housing Advocacy Group Says There is Sandy Victim Discrimination for Grants

By Lauren Wanko

A New Jersey housing advocacy group says Latinos and African Americans have been rejected by the state at higher rates than Caucasians for two major Sandy recovery grant programs.

When the Governor appealed to the federal government for Sandy relief funds it was supposed to be for the relief of everyone and when we looked at the data that was reported we found that those disparities were alarming,” said NAACP President Richard Smith.

Fair Share Housing Center found about 38 percent of African Americans and more than 20 percent of Latinos were rejected for the Resettlement Program, compared to more than 14 percent of Caucasians.

“That is disturbing. We’re of course concerned about the discriminatory aspects of it,” said Latino Action Network President Frank Argote-Freyre.

“There is no consideration of race or ethnicity in determining who gets any grants through Sandy relief and it’s just another make work report from a hack group that’s looking for attention,” said Governor Christie.

“I don’t really care what they Governor has to say about us. What we care about is that there are tens of thousands of people impacted by Sandy who are not back home and we’re trying to figure out why that is,” said Adam Gordon, Staff attorney at Fair Sharing House.

New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable calls the report an outrageously false implication, he adds, “In the seven months since housing recovery funds were approved by the federal government, 44 percent- or nearly half- of the money has been obligated or is out the door to people in need. To date, nearly three-quarters of those funds have been distributed to low- or middle-income renters and homeowners.”

The data indicates significantly less Latinos and African Americans applied for two different Sandy grant programs.

“The outreach was done very badly and inadequately without consulting the board range of Latino organizations,” said Argote-Freyre.

The Latino Action Network says in October they noticed the Spanish version of the state’s Sandy recovery website had missing information and errors compared to the English site. The group notified the DCA. The Latino Action Network says the changes were made about a week later but not soon enough.

“It’s too late because the deadline has passed for some of these claims so what do we do about those folks who thought the deadline had passed or they had the wrong information,” said Argote-Freyre.

Fair Share Housing Center plans on asking the federal government to investigate the issue and they say they’ll continue to seek answers from the Christie administration