- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Restoring housing and expanding a fund that finances thousands of affordable rental units for low- to moderate-income families will be how New Jersey spends most of what will likely be the final round of Superstorm Sandy relief money.

Gov. Chris Christie’s administration announced its plans Tuesday night for spending $501.9 million in federal storm recovery aid, the third round of funding allocated to the state.

The bulk of the storm aid - about $440 million - would be used to complete repairs on all eligible Superstorm Sandy-damaged homes and expand the rental unit fund.

Additional funding would go to a state program that repairs or replaces housing for special needs populations that was damaged or destroyed by the storm.

The administration’s plan will be the subject of two public hearings in early January. A 30-day public comment period on the proposal began Tuesday.

“These additional disaster recovery funds will allow the state, working closely with all of our partners, to continue this process of repairing and replacing housing damaged by the worst natural disaster in our state’s history,” Christie said.

The proposed funding allocation for the administration’s recovery programs is:

- $225 million for repairs and mitigation measures for the remaining homes in the state Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program.

- $215 million to expand the rental units program, which is administered by the state’s Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency. The funds also would help finance the repair or replacement of rental housing units.

- $10 million to the Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund program, which is administered by HMFA and repairs or replaces housing for special needs populations.

- $15 million to provide assistance for up to two years through the Tenant-Based Rental Assistance program to be launched next month. The funds - which are in addition to the $17 million in the second round of federal funds allocated to this program - will increase availability of rental units to low- to moderate-income families and help revitalize impacted communities.

The remaining funds will be dedicated for costs associated with administering recovery programs.

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