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HUD Proposes Pitting Disaster-hit States Against Each Other for Relief

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials are considering the use of more than $1 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion in rebuilding aid for Superstorm Sandy for other disasters across the country — money that New York and New Jersey are banking on to finish repairs to thousands of homes and complete major infrastructure projects...
April 29, 2014

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials are considering the use of more than $1 billion of the remaining $3.6 billion in rebuilding aid for Superstorm Sandy for other disasters across the country — money that New York and New Jersey are banking on to finish repairs to thousands of homes and complete major infrastructure projects. HUD would run a contest to see who gets the money.

HUD officials briefed Congress on a plan that would create a national resiliency competition to more widely distribute about $1 billion to $2 billion of the remaining Sandy aid to areas that have recently suffered disasters. If approved, it would be the first time HUD has held a national competition for federal disaster money, and the contest would reward projects that make communities more resilient against future disasters, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

The idea sets up the possibility that New York City, New York and New Jersey would have to compete with other states for the money. If the same criteria were to be applied to other disasters, victims in states such as Florida or Louisiana could see relief funds that were ostensibly earmarked for them being sent elsewhere, based on a contest. In the three years covered by the Sandy aid bill, 208 major disasters have been declared by the federal government. A person familiar with the proposal said 48 states would be eligible for the national competition.

The Wall Street Journal report brought sharp reactions from lawmakers. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he’ll oppose any attempts to divert any remaining funds from the Superstorm Sandy aid law until the area has enough money to fully rebuild. “We will fight to ensure that every one of New York’s needs are met before a national competition sends a single Sandy relief dollar elsewhere,” Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, said in a statement.

More Than $1 Billion in Superstorm Sandy Aid Could Leave Region(Wall Street Journal 4/20/14) (subscription)