Sandy victims who owe $73M to the feds would get 2-year reprieve under big spending bill

Published: Mar. 10, 2022

More than 1,800 New Jersey homeowners owe the federal government tens of millions in dollars because they received too much aid to help them rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. The giant spending bill that just passed the U.S. House would give them a two-year reprieve.

The $1.5 trillion legislation funding the federal government through Sept. 30 would extend through 2025 the deadline to pay back the extra money that residents received to pay for repairs following the hurricane.

For 1,813 households in New Jersey, however, the federal government said they received $73 million too much and had to pay it back.

“New Jersey families were decimated by Superstorm Sandy and are still on the hook for millions of dollars in federal clawbacks through no fault of their own,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist.

The spending bill was negotiated between the House and Senate, so approval is expected. The House passed it Wednesday night and the Senate is expected to act soon.

State officials so far have blocked the Federal Emergency Management Agency from being repaid, and Gov. Phil Murphy announced in October 2018 that homeowners ordered to repay federal aid from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could seek an “extreme financial hardship allowance” from the state.

The U.S. House has approved separate legislation to allow the homeowners to keep the money, unless there was fraud involved, but the measure has failed to pass the Senate.

“Even though it has been almost ten years, the wounds left by Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey remain raw,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist. “Today, Garden Staters are still recovering both emotionally and financially from the storm. Seeking repayment from many of them just as our state is beginning to find normalcy from the pandemic has always been unwise and unwarranted.”

The legislation also gave New Jersey two more years to spend $380 million in federal funds for flood mitigation projects in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, and the Meadowlands.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-03-11 03:26:00 -0800