Five New Jersey Mayors react to Ben Carson being named HUD Secretary
Five New Jersey Mayors were apart of a teleconference this week with NJ U.S. Senator Bob Menendez discussing the appointment by President-Elect Donald Trump in his naming of Ben Carson as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) ahead of a confirmation hearing Thursday.
Confirmation hearings have begun this week for President-Elect Donald Trump's cabinet picks just ahead of his swearing in ceremony next Friday.
On Thursday, it's Dr. Ben Carson's turn following his appointment by Trump to be HUD Secretary.
Senator Menendez will be among the officials asking questions among the Senate Banking Committee.
“I want to get a view of Ben Carson’s vision of what HUD’s mission is and his list of priorities and management style,” said Menendez. “Specifically, how is he going to lead an agency after making comments while running for president that are diametrically opposed to HUD’s core mission?”
As a former New Jersey Mayor himself in Union City, Menendez told the group of mayors this week that he understands how vital HUD is for municipalities in the Garden State.
"I believe that smartly designed and well implemented federal funding is absolutely essential to address a range of issues," said Menendez.
He believes that the nation needs a leader for HUD who understands how to help towns and cities receive necessary funding for various projects.
"Ultimately when your squeezing every dollar, you need programs and policies that are well managed on the federal side," said Menendez.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer adds to that sentiment by saying they need the Secretary of HUD to help them rebuild from Sandy through the flood resilience project.
"Until we get this project done, our city is very much at risk," said Zimmer.
Brick Mayor John Ducey says Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) funds they receive help non-profit organizations thrive financially in the township because donations for those causes are not as fruitful as they once were.
Other portions of these grants that help, Ducey adds, are geared toward making repairs for low income residents.
"We're lucky here in Brick Township because we average about 10 rehabilitation's a year and the average price for those is about $15,000.00," said Ducey. "That's all fully funded by those HUD programs."
He hopes HUD will continue to demonstrate its effectiveness by assisting with the 'CDGBR' disaster relief program following Sandy.
"That's a program where homeowners were able to apply to for up to a $150,000.00 grant to repair or elevate their homes," said Ducey.
With the most waterfront properties in the state, Ducey adds, they need a HUD leader who can help this program be strong.
Ducey then adds that it's vital for Carson, "to be ready, have plans and the ability to follow through on those plans."
In Newark, Mayor Ras Baraka echoes a similar goal for Carson ahead of the hearings and says they need some help there as well with 20,000 residents currently on a waiting list for housing.
"It's extremely important that we have somebody that is competent and connected to what's happening in these cities and the growing cost of living in the state of New Jersey," said Baraka.
This makes it challenging for the voucher program HUD has, Baraka explains, because the vouchers don't provide enough of the funding they need with the growing cost of living in New Jersey.
“It’s a misconception of the incoming administration that HUD only benefits urban areas,” said Bloomfield Mayor Mike Venezia.
In Camden, Mayor Dana Redd has concerns for her city as well.
"What will the Department of HUD look like in the future, and what will be the financial impact to us at the local level," Redd asked. "I’m hoping the incoming secretary will take a thorough look at the work of the agency and its impact to cities across this country.”
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