A long week of explanations and apologies for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is close to its end, but the scandals continue. On Friday a new study tracking the use of Hurricane Sandy funds showed that a black or Latino New Jerseyan looking for a grant to rebuild after Sandy was more likely to be rejected than someone who was white.
The Fair Share Housing Center released a study tracking requests for funding, both for resettlement and reconstruction, of New Jersey residents hurt by Hurricane Sandy. It found, The Record reports, that 38% of black applicants and 20% of Latino applicants were rejected for resettlement grants, while only 14.5% of white applicants received the same response. For reconstruction grants, a smaller number (35%) of blacks and Latinos (18%) were rejected, but only 13.6% of whites were, as well. The study shows that black applicants were more likely to be rejected outright, while Latino applicants were more likely to never hear back about public funding. The Fair Share Housing Authority released the entirety of its results here.
The organization noted that it found “an overall lack of organization and planning” in how the money is being distributed by the government, according to The Record, and the organization’s staff attorney accused the distribution of being unfair and making many Sandy victims “feel left out of this recovery.”
Last October, The Star-Ledger published a report from South Jersey’s western shore and the state’s poorest county, Cumberland County, finding that many destroyed buildings remained almost identically wrecked a year after Sandy and that residents there felt left out of the recovery by the Christie administration. (New Jersey is also home to the America’s sixth-richest county, the northern Hunterdon County.)
Cumberland County hit a “50-year high” in poverty last September. Congressman Frank LoBiondo, who represents Cumberland County and most of the southernmost part of the state, was endorsed vocally by Governor Christie and has been supportive of the Governor throughout the George Washington Bridge scandal. He has not mentioned CNN’s report that Christie is being investigated for misuse of Hurricane Sandy funds in public.
The news that there may be racial bias in the way Sandy funding has been distributed surfaced a day after Christie made a previously postponed trip to the Jersey Shore to announce that the state has distributed more than $800 million in Sandy relief funds and to meet with the local volunteer firefighter group. He ensured the group at the event that he “intend[s] to spend the rest of my life” in New Jersey – perhaps a nod to his diminished 2016 presidential chances – and did not take questions from local residents or the media.