HUD's Sandy Settlement Brings Renewed Multifamily Focus

Recently, HUD approved New Jersey's plan for spending $1.46 billion in the second round of storm aid intended to help the thousands of people on waiting lists for Superstorm Sandy rebuilding assistance. New Jersey received $1.8 billion in Sandy aid last year. All told, it will receive about $4.2 billion, a small fraction of the cost of damage from the October 2012 storm.

In April 2013, civil rights groups including the Latino Action Network, the NJ Conference of the NAACP, and the Fair Share Housing Center filed a complaint with HUD asserting that the state's administration of the relief funds discriminated against low-income, minority, and non-English speaking residents. HUD announced the settlement last Friday.

Under the settlement, the state agreed to allocate $215 million in CDBG Disaster Recovery funds to develop and replace multifamily housing in the nine counties most affected by Sandy, with a priority for Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic Counties. At least 60 percent of the units must serve families with children; at least 50 percent of the units must be affordable to households at or below 50 percent of area median income (minimum 15-year restriction); and priority for occupancy will be given to those displaced by the storm or whose homes suffered severe damage. The funding is in addition to the $379.5 million previously allocated for multifamily restoration.

The state also agreed to: (1) reconsider rejected applications for assistance for damaged homes; (2) allocate at least an additional $15 million for rental vouchers (in addition to the $17 million the state has proposed for reallocation to vouchers); (3) provide an additional $10 million to restore public, assisted, or supportive housing (to result in total of at least $60 million); and (4) conduct greater outreach to low-income, minority, and non-English speaking people.