By Jody Stewart
You all are amazing. You have been working so hard to get petition signatures for our clawback forgiveness petition to David C. Woll that we’ve got over 1,000 and we’re ready to do petition deliveries! He hasn’t been confirmed for his new position yet, but it’s likely in the works, and we’re still going to give our federal representatives copies to give him, and request a meeting directly with him. AND, we continue to push forward with the hopes of a bill being introduced in the House and Senate in March to remove duplication of benefits from the Stafford Act.
Want to be part of a petition delivery? Email me at email@example.com. As of right now, we’re still planning to have in person deliveries. But PLEASE check out our coronavirus response link. We can’t stop fighting for a full and fair Sandy recovery, so we need you all to join the fight virtually just in case.
Over 2,500 people in the state of New Jersey have been clawbacked, meaning they have been asked to return funding to the state grant program. Why, you ask? For many reasons. One reason being they applied for and received money from a SBA loan. Go figure that receiving a loan, which you have to pay back is considered a duplication of benefits. The system penalizes homeowners for being proactive in their recovery and doing whatever they had to do to get back to somewhat of a normal life. Another reason for a clawback is accepting funding from the ICC (Increased Cost Compliance) which is something we pay for as part of our flood insurance to mitigate. Many mistakes were made on the part of the state in the recovery and we have to stop laying the blame on the homeowners. Victims we were, Survivors we become.
Cross the Finish Line aka Supplemental Funds:
The Cross the Finish line aka Supplemental Funding continues to move forward, though it has moved at a slower pace than we originally hoped. What we know right now is more than 100 people have received their award letters and now have the opportunity to move forward in their recovery.
We also have some exciting news about contractor fraud and the RREM program. On Jan 21, 2020, Governor Murphy signed a bill (S31919) into law that will allow Sandy survivors to get RREM grants adjusted if they experienced contractor fraud without the need for a charging document. Those who have experienced contractor fraud while being a part of the state grant program know how difficult this process can be, if you were even able to get through it.
RREM still has only so much say in how things are handled and fraud goes through the Dept of Consumer Affairs. The bill states that Dept of Consumer Affairs shall permit the distribution of fraud response funding to an applicant if a government agency notifies them in writing, that there is reasonable cause to believe that a RREM or LMI contractor has engaged in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. RREM is required to consult with the Dept of Consumer Affairs to develop a process for implementing those written notifications. Sounds a little technical. From what I am understanding, RREM is working on how to handle the way things will now be processed. People still have the opportunity to request an appeal if they were removed from the grant program because of contractor fraud and bring to the attention of the Dept of Consumer Affairs consumer fraud within the guidelines of the Consumer Fraud Act.
We have all worked hard on getting this bill passed and I would like to thank all of you who put their time and effort into making this happen. Thanks to those who shared your stories, went to legislative meetings, or spoke to the press. You are the reason we get things done.