At the request of Gov. Chris Christie, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority voted yesterday to allow businesses owners affected by last Thursday’s fire on the boardwalk in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights to receive a portion of the federal Sandy aid money allocated to New Jersey. Some $5 million from the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery’s Stronger NJ Neighborhood and Community Revitalization (NCR) Program will be used for post-fire demolition and debris removal, as well as mitigation efforts and rebuilding of public infrastructure. Another $10 million will be allocated for grants and forgivable loans.
“It was critical that we move quickly to aid the Seaside business community, which was still struggling to recover from superstorm Sandy,” said NJEDA head Michele Brown, in a statement over the weekend. “Extending aid from existing CDBG funding is the most efficient, practical way to get help to the community, which has been dealt a second, terrible blow.”
But the move has drawn some criticism from Americans for Prosperity and several housing advocacy groups, which said Sandy aid money shouldn’t be used for needs not directly related to the storm, especially while many storm victims remain on waiting lists for government assistance.