"The programs designed as part of the action plan will help address the unmet needs of Sandy-impacted homeowners, renters, and business owners as they rebuild their lives and recover from their losses," Gov. Christie said in a statement.
Congress approved $60 billion in post-Sandy relief for the region. The late-October storm mangled New Jersey's coast, plunged millions into darkness, and caused an estimated $29 billion in related losses not covered by private insurance or other government programs. Affected states must get federal approval of their plans for spending the money before any grants are distributed.
The public comment period closed March 19.
This is the first round of disaster-relief money to be allocated. Two more rounds of block grants are expected, with a total to New Jersey of $5.4 billion. The money could be scaled back somewhat because of widespread federal budget cuts that took effect March 1.
The grants will be focused in the nine counties with the worst damage from the storm, the state's worst natural disaster. The administration said the first round of grants would help an estimated 26,000 homeowners with their primary residences, 5,000 renters, and 10,000 small businesses in addition to local governments.
The programs the Republican governor wants to implement - offering grants to rebuild damaged homes, issuing no-interest loans for small businesses, and giving landlords cash incentives to repair homes and rent them - are standard for states receiving federal assistance after natural disasters. Some areas where the state says there are problems, such as repairing infrastructure and restoring the fishing industry, are not included in the plan. An expanded home-buyback program for people in flood-prone neighborhoods will be included in a later funding application.
The plan submitted to HUD includes $825 million for elevation and reconstruction of damaged primary residences, $255 million for displaced renters whose primary residences were damaged, and $300 million in small-business grants. A $25 million allocation to promote storm-impacted Shore communities is included, as is $50 million to help municipalities provide essential services without increasing taxes. Developers of public housing would see $104.5 million in zero- and low-interest loans of up to $120,000 per unit to create new permanent housing.
Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable III said the administration was finalizing the application and grant approval procedures so money can start reaching residents and businesses as quickly as possible after HUD approval.
"We recognize people and communities are hurting and we are working literally night and day to get aid out the door," he said.