Rejected by RREM Program:
Caucasians-13.6%, Latinos-18.1%, and African Americans-35.1%
Rejected by Resettlement Program:
Caucasians-14.5%, Latinos-20.4%, and African Americans-38.1%
Trenton, NJ -Data obtained by the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC) through litigation with the Christie Administration and reviewed by the NAACP and Latino Action Network have raised serious questions about whether the relief programs are operating in an equitable and transparent manner. Latinos and African Americans have been rejected by the State at much higher rates than Caucasians for both Resettlement and RREM programs - the two major programs designed to provide funds for homeowners impacted by Sandy.
New Jersey NAACP Richard Smith expressed deep concern about the data that is now available to the public regarding who has been accepted, rejected and wait-listed. Smith stated, "Governor Christie made his appeal for funds to the federal government with a promise to help everyone equally. When African Americans are rejected at a rate two and a half times that of whites, we at the NAACP believe it is grounds for an investigation into the overall process and functionality of these programs."
Latinos impacted by Sandy consistently have felt left out by the Christie Administration explained Frank Argote-Freyre, President of the Latino Action Network. The process began with the Christie Administration underfunding renters impacted by Sandy, who are three times as likely to be Latino as homeowners. Notably, the administration provided misinformation on the Spanish version of the www.renewjerseystronger.org website, failing to inform many Latinos of options to appeal rejections and other key information.
"Given the misinformation presented to the Spanish-reading community by the Governor's relief website, I think Governor Christie should explain what he intends to do to help those who were unfairly rejected or who missed deadlines due to the administration's neglect," Argote-Freyre stated. "We hope that these data, supplied by the Christie Administration itself, will help to shed light on why these programs are not working."
Adam Gordon, Staff Attorney for the Fair Share Housing Center, added that the Center has made several documents available to the public at fairsharehousing.org/sandy. "The public outcry for the Christie Administration to be more transparent has been significant, including requests by several nonprofit organizations, newspapers, and television and radio news programs - some of which have considered legal action to obtain them. We are continuing to make the information available to the public that the Christie Administration has, absent litigation, refused to make available."
In addition to low approval rates, the data indicate that African American and Latino households constitute a disproportionately low number of applicants to the programs. Due to the state's failure to advertise the programs and reach out to affected communities, including those with lower-incomes, for the Resettlement Program, there 849 Latino applicants and 878 African American applicants, compared to 17,749 Caucasian applicants. Likewise, for the RREM Program, there were 432 Latino applicants and 485 African American applicants, compared to 7328 Caucasian applicants.