Bill waving Sandy relief clawbacks to get House vote, members say

opens in a new windowBill waving Sandy relief clawbacks to get House vote, members say / New Jersey Globe / 7/16/2021

Nikita Biryukov

Three of New Jersey’s congresspeople on Friday announced two bills waiving the repayment of federal benefits disbursed to New Jersey homeowners and municipalities impacted by Superstorm Sandy would advance in the House of Representatives.

“Superstorm Sandy decimated New Jersey families and towns, and they are still on the hook for millions of dollars through no fault of their own. The struggle to repay loans has only been exacerbated by the recent economic downturn and COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch). “During this difficult time of economic uncertainty, it’s simply unfair for federal agencies to ask for repayment on tens of millions of dollars in loans and grants from Sandy.”

The measures would allow the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to do away with a requirement for homeowners in the Garden State to repay federal disaster relief aid meted out in the aftermath of the 2012 storm.

The estimated worth of those clawbacks may be as high as $100 million and is spread across more than 2,000 New Jersey households.

“America came together after Superstorm Sandy to help New Jerseyans through a very dark period,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing). “Now almost a decade later, some families face the prospect of having to pay back money that was erroneously given to them through no fault of their own, even when the family member who received them has passed away, their home was foreclosed upon, or they filed bankruptcy.”

The bills also allow for the forgiveness of more than $30 million in disaster relief loans awarded to 21 New Jersey municipalities in the wake of the storm.

“We can’t say that we’ve truly recovered from Superstorm Sandy until every one of our neighbors is back on their feet,” Rep. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown) said. “This relief that I’ve been proud to fight for, alongside Congressman Pallone, Congresswoman Watson Coleman, and advocates like the New Jersey Organizing Project, would help bring closure and security nearly a decade after that disastrous storm.”

The House is expected to bring the bills up for a vote in the coming months.

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