TRENTON – In an effort to bring the thousands of victims of Superstorm Sandy the answers, assistance and results they deserve, Senate President Steve Sweeney will continue his “Sandy Bill of Rights” tour Thursday, March 6, with a stop in Linden.
The Senate President will stop at the 7th Ward Recreation Center, located at 2907 Tremley Point Road in Linden at 1 p.m., where he will be joined by officials, including State Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22), Assemblyman Jerry Green (D-22) and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22), Union County Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak, municipal representatives, advocates and victims of the storm. The center served as a community shelter after the storm. The Tremley Point area around the center was especially hard hit, with dozens of homes lost. More than $900 million in damages occurred in Linden as a result of Sandy.
Last month, Senate President Sweeney introduced legislation that would establish a “Sandy Bill of Rights.” The bill of rights would do several things, including requiring a plain language explanation of what is needed to be eligible and to apply for Sandy recovery programs; the right to know where your relief application stands and what additional information is needed; the right to know why your application was rejected or why you were placed on a waiting list and the right to appeal a denial of funding.
Recent media accounts and advocacy groups have reported various problems in the Sandy aid process. For example, some families were being told they would lose their aid for failure to provide certain documents, while others were given no such ultimatum. In other instances, numbers show that funding has been denied at higher rates for African American and Latino residents despite being equally hard hit by the storm. Only 4% of available funding has been distributed.
A line of victims told a legislative committee that a state contractor responsible for getting people back in their homes had repeatedly lost their applications and often couldn’t answer the most basic of questions. The Christie administration quietly cancelled the contract with this firm, and state officials have said little about how they will proceed with this critical task. In addition, they paid the company $10 million simply to be able to fire them.
This will be the fourth stop on the tour. Previously, the Senate President met with victims and advocates in Perth Amboy, Toms River and Moonachie.