As part of the big Sandy package the Inquirer ran on Sunday, Amy Rosenberg dives deep into the relief situation. And what she found ain’t pretty: It seems the vast majority of aid, federal and privately-raised, has not been granted.
When it comes to federal aid, we know how much has and has not been matched up with recipients. Just $5.2 billion of the $47.5 billion Congress allocated has been used by cities and states (not all of it being for Jersey, of course). And of that, less than a billion has gone to housing recovery in state. (See the Inky‘s federal relief map, which also shows where FEMA aid has gone.)
When it comes to the private donations, the numbers are less clear. But they don't look good. In some instances, it seems that lack of organization is the culprit.
"I want to spend the money," said [Henry] Wise, a Salvation Army official who heads the Atlantic County Long Term Recovery Group, which has $1.1 million, including $300,000 from Robin Hood and $586,000 from the Red Cross. The group does not maintain an office and is still setting up a dedicated phone line. Wise says the organization has been unable to connect with enough clients.
In other cases, red tape has gotten in the way.
In some cases, work started on homes with money from Mary Pat Christie's fund has screeched to a halt as Sandy victims applying to Gov. Christie's signature $600 million grant program, RREM - Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation, and Mitigation - were told to stop all other work, pending the outcome of their applications.
Another group says it's been unable to find volunteers to help it match its money with Sandy victims, a claim that seems suspicious, given the other groups that have had no trouble. Either way, looks like not much has changed since March, when Mary Pat Christie's relief fund still hadn't made any donations.