The $1.8 billion recently allocated for use in Community Development Block Grants, or CDBGs, will be used primarily to help residents and small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy recover, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said Thursday afternoon.
Joined by Gov. Chris Christie in Sea Bright, Donovan said the funding is the first chunk of approximately $16 billion that will help homeowners along the East Coast rebuild, filling the gaps between aid provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and loans issued by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
The grant funding is part of the more than $50 billion aid package approved by Congress less than a month ago.
With storms like Sandy, known, misleadingly, as once-a-century storms, occuring more frequently, aid being distributed needs to be used to rebuild communities more resiliently, he said. For every single dollar spent on flood mitigation, Donovan said, $4 are saved in future recovery efforts.
Currently, Donovan said HUD is working with the governor's office in developing recovery plans and that funding will come shortly. He cautioned that recovery, in many cases, won't come quickly, and that for some residents, rebuilding could be a process that takes several years.
Donovan said he understands the plight of those impacted by Sandy's destruction. He promised to conitinue working with the governor's office until recovery is complete.
Christie, echoing a refrain used often since Sandy hit New Jersey's coast at the end of October, asked residents to be patient. With funding secured, he said, restoring the shore can now begin in earnest.