Support for the Sandy Bill of Rights [AUDIO]
In the coming days, the New Jersey Legislature is expected to vote on whether to override Gov. Chris Christie’s conditional veto of the Sandy Bill of Rights.
Christie turned thumbs down on the measure last month, saying parts of it violated federal law, and several provisions were unenforceable.
Homeowners and groups representing families and small businesses are voicing support for the Sandy Bill of Rights, and calling on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to override the governor’s veto.
During a conference call with reporters, Lori Dibble of Highlands said neither she, nor any other homeowners at the Paradise Park development where she lived have received any help after Sandy.
“I was one of the first people to apply for the Resettlement and RREM grants,” she said. “But the process has been incredibly uninformative as well as unhelpful – I never received an appointment. There was an incredible confusion in these two programs on how to evaluate applications, and they just put all of these applications into a no-man’s file.”
She said homeowner have contacted the Department of Community Affairs, but they have not been helpful.
“My applications now have been officially denied,” Dibble said. “I’ve appealed, the appeal has now been denied, and now I’m scheduled to go for a hearing.”
Dibble said storm victims aren’t obtaining enough specific details about the denials.
“This Sandy Bill of Rights is incredibly important to us, because nobody is giving us a reason for these denials, it’s just these very opaque, general letters, you don’t know what it is you haven’t done that they want,” Dibble said. “There’s a confusion between rules and regulations and how the applications are being processed.”
She believes the Sandy Bill of Rights will help victims “find out where we are in the process, where the glitches are in the process and how best to try to figure out how to get these things resolved.”
Dena Mottola Jaborska, the director of Organizing & Strategic Program Development at New Jersey Citizen Action, said hundreds of small businesses that are qualified for Sandy assistance have been left in the dust.
“The state had been given over $100 million to help small businesses to recover from the storm,” she said. “And so far only about 23 million has gone out. That means the majority of the funds are sitting unspent and idle while many of the businesses are suffering and still need the money.”
She added “the program has been utterly mismanaged, clearly we have a lot more work to do.”