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Governor Christie: $1.8 Billion in Federal Funding Will Help Us Rebuild

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Published on Feb 6, 2013

Sea Girt Presser
February 6, 2013 (Transcript Below)

Governor Christie: Well, we're—first off, let me say that the secretary of HUD, Secretary Donovan will be in New Jersey tomorrow to talk in greater detail about how HUD, who are the administrators of the community development block grant program are going to work with us to get this going. Let me explain it just briefly for folks. The community block grants will be given out in two sections.

The first section is a third of the money that was appropriated by Congress, about $5.4 billion, will be given out starting this week to the states. About a third of that money is coming here to New Jersey. We got the single biggest grant of $1.83 billion that will be coming here in block grants. New York City got about 1.77 billion; New York State got about 1.71 billion. And so we're pleased with how fairly New Jersey was treated in all this, and our goal on this first section of the money David is to use it predominantly for a homeowner grant program and a small business grant program. Notice I'm saying grants not loans. We know that a lot of our homeowners already had debt. They're getting insurance monies back but they may not be covering the entire cost of reconstructing their homes, and so we're going to have them be eligible through the Department of Community Affairs, if this is approved by HUD, and we have to submit our plan to HUD, which we'll do shortly for approval, but if approved by HUD this would allow homeowners to apply for grants to cover that gap that would exist between insurance, and we may not be able to cover the whole gap but we may be able to help them get a significant way forward.

Secondly on small business, this again would be a grant program administered by the Economic Development Authority, who does this on a regular basis for us and already has the infrastructure available to it, and they would be working with small businesses that were damaged by the hurricane and allow those folks then to get themselves reopened by using grant money to buy new inventory, finish the repairs to their buildings, anything that will help them get back and reopened. It won't be restricted just to the shore area, because as we know there were spots in Bergen County and Essex County and Hudson County that were also damaged by the results of the storm, and so we'll be doing that across the state in those areas where people can prove damage., and then there will be the second two-thirds of the money which will be distributed at a later date, not yet determined by Housing and Urban Development that will be an additional $11 billion that will be distributed to the states.
The reason we pushed so hard, Governor Cuomo and I for block grants is it gives the maximum amount of flexibility to us to spend the money in the way that we see fit, and in New Jersey I think the biggest issue here at the shore in particular is getting homeowners back in their homes, getting businesses reopened, so that things can start moving and beating again here for the summer season. And so that's why we decided to use the first section of money, if it's approved, for a homeowner grant program, a grant program for business, and also an aggressive marketing program to let people both in the region and across the country who come here for vacation know we're open for business, and, you know, seeing all the destruction, it's been a hundred days now, they figure maybe the whole beach is going to be gone for the whole summer. We know that's not true, and so we know our towns need that kind of really aggressive advertising, so we're going to be asking HUD to use some of that money to help market our businesses and our shore communities and to let folks know they can come here this summer and still have a great time at the Jersey Shore. So that's the way it will work initially, and that doesn't count the other monies, like the Army Corps of Engineers money that's coming to work on replenishing and rebuilding the beaches, Department of Transportation money which is coming to help to refurbish our highways that were damaged, and our mass transit systems that were damaged, both the ones owned by New Jersey Transit and the ones owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. And so this community development block grant money is just one section of the money that will be flowing to New Jersey through other entities as well of the federal government as a result of the bill that was passed and signed by the President.

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