Letter to Deanne Criswell, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency - Watson Coleman, New Jersey Delegation Urge FEMA To Provide Data In Order To Allocate Hurricane Ida Disaster Relief Funds


Dear Administrator Criswell:

We write today regarding the status of data the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) needs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in order to allocate funding appropriated by Congress for communities impacted by 2021 disasters. We ask that you provide this data to HUD as expeditiously as possible so that this funding can get to the people in New Jersey and other states that desperately need it to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ida.

As you know, the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden on September 30, 2021 appropriated $5 billion in CDBG-DR/MIT funds for major disasters that occurred in 2020 and 2021. On November 1, 2021, HUD announced the allocation of more than $2 billion to states impacted by 2020 disasters. The remaining funds would be used to address the unmet need from disasters that occurred in 2021, but months later, funding has still not been allocated. It is our understanding that HUD requires data from FEMA in order to calculate the allocation to New Jersey and other states affected by Hurricane Ida. We urge you to provide this data to HUD as soon as possible.

Many reconstruction and recovery efforts in New Jersey cannot commence until HUD allocates this funding, and the months of delay have had a deleterious impact on the families and communities in our state. Many of our constituents were displaced when their homes were destroyed by the storm, including hundreds living in public housing. Housing shortages compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic have left many residents in hotels and motels at government expense to this day, with no expectation of when they will be able to return to their homes. Under any circumstances, this uncertainty would be difficult to bear, but during the current pandemic, the impact is magnified. Moreover, with each passing day, the mold and water damage to the impacted properties, as well as the expense to mitigate the damage, only increases.

We appreciate all that FEMA has done already to help New Jersey residents get back on their feet, but we need a better understanding of when these calculations for relief awards will be completed. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, and please do not hesitate to contact our offices if you have questions or wish to discuss this matter further.