New Jersey homeowners impacted by Superstorm Sandy have begun receiving $10,000 resettlement checks that allow them to stay in or return to their homes and home counties.

“As they rebuild their homes and lives from Sandy, we want people to stay right here in New Jersey, and the Homeowner Resettlement Program is a vital tool in making that happen,” said Governor Chris Christie.

“After congressional inaction on the front end that led to delays in getting the relief money out, we’re finally starting to see much-needed funds in the hands of the people who need it most. These $10,000 grants are lifelines to people who have been through so much adversity, to encourage them not to give up.”

The governor said he was delivering on his pledge to get recovery funds out the door as quickly as possible.

The Christie administration began issuing Homeowner Resettlement checks less than three months after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development  approved New Jersey’s Community Development Block Grant  Disaster Recovery Action Plan.

The $180 million Homeowner Resettlement Program is aimed at encouraging Sandy-impacted homeowners to remain in the nine most-impacted counties (Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union) in order to help restore home values and stabilize devastated communities.

Homeowners must agree to remain in the county of their damaged residence for three consecutive years following the grant award. Sixty percent of the funds are initially reserved in the first period to serve for low-to-moderate-income households.

On Tuesday, Christie  joined New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard E. Constable III  in Little Ferry to announce the checks have been going out this month.

“Many Sandy-impacted homeowners are facing considerable financial pressures, especially those who were displaced and paying mortgage and taxes on one home while also renting another,” said Constable, whose department is administering the distribution of CDBG Disaster Recovery funds for New Jersey.

“These $10,000 resettlement checks will make increased insurance premiums and costs for other non-construction needs less daunting, thereby giving homeowners an incentive to stay in their primary residences.”

The checks can be used for any non-construction purpose such as flood insurance costs, mortgage payments, utility bills, and replacement furniture that helps the homeowner to remain in or to return to the county in which they lived prior to the storm.

All applicants under the resettlement program must have owned and occupied their primary residence in one of the nine most-impacted counties at the time of the storm, must have registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and must have sustained at least $8,000 in damages or more than one foot of flooding on the first floor as a result of Sandy.

The initial application period for the resettlement program ended June 30. Applications were randomly selected and prioritized by income and geography.
Before resettlement grant recipients can receive a check, they must attend a closing and sign a promissory note. They must agree to use the funds for non-construction purposes and to return and remain for three years in the county in which they lived prior to Sandy. Checks arrive 10-15 days after the closing.

More than 11,000 closing appointments have been scheduled and more than 4,000 closings have been completed. Resettlement checks will continue to be issued throughout August and into September.

Applications received after June 30 will be considered after all the the initial applications have been processed, including those that were placed on the wait list.

An announcement on future allocations of CDBG Disaster Recovery funding is expected this fall by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Eligible homeowners have until August 1 to apply for a resettlement grant. After August 1, applications will no longer be accepted. Eligible homeowners can apply for grant assistance online , by phone at 1-855-726-3946, or in person at any one of the Housing Recovery Centers in each of the nine counties most affected by  Sandy.