Federal rules require that at least half of the Superstorm Sandy aid coming to New Jersey goes to residents at or below moderate income levels, but the Christie administration has tilted the scales even more in favor of lower-income residents, a newspaper found.

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The Record looked at about $642 million in grants approved to date through two homeowner programs. One provides up to $150,000 to rebuild and elevate heavily damaged houses. The other, a much smaller program, provides $10,000 checks to homeowners who agree not to move from their home counties for at least three years.

The newspaper found that 69 percent of the rebuilding money is going to low- to moderate-income homeowners.

More affluent homeowners have been awarded 59 percent of the $10,000 grants, which start going out this week.

But overall, 64 cents of every dollar in grant money has gone to low- to moderate-income households, the newspaper reported Monday.

The Christie administration wants to give priority to those most in need, said Richard Constable III, commissioner of the state Department of Community Affairs, which is administrating the grants.

But dedicating more housing money to lower-income residents than required also gives the state leeway to spend on other programs that don't directly help the neediest New Jerseyans, such as small-business grants, Constable told the newspaper.

Another round of federal money for homeowners could be on the way this fall, but the amount and when it will be made available is not yet known.

Although the rebuilding grants may be used to elevate houses, a separate $100 million federal fund announced last week is dedicated exclusively to raising the most flood-prone residences.


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