TRENTON - Lawmakers held the first of three hearings this week on the state's plans to spend the next $1.4 billion in Superstorm Sandy relief funds Tuesday.
Gov. Chris Christie's administration has said it will use approximately $735 million for housing programs. Half of that, or $450 million, would go to low or moderate-income families.
Another $535 million would improve vulnerabilities in the state's transportation, energy and water infrastructure systems. That amount includes an "energy bank" which would pay for resiliency and flood-hazard risk reduction programs.
Lawmakers on the state Senate's oversight committee let three advocates for housing recovery sound off on the plan. Primary complaints included the thousands of victims improperly rejected for aid, a lack of outreach for Latino victims and a top secret approach to sharing information.
"I must admit we still have more questions than we do answers," says Kevin Wash with Fair Share Housing. "The reason is because it's hard to figure out what's going on. I think the administration, which promised unprecedented transparency, hasn't quite lived up to that promise."
Two members of the Christie administration were invited to attend, but neither could, citing scheduling conflicts.
The state's Department of Community Affairs will hold a series of Sandy events this week at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, NJIT in Newark and Brookdale Community College in Middletown.