Sarah Gonzalez, Reporter, WNYC/NJPR
Sarah Gonzalez is the northern New Jersey enterprise reporter for WNYC and NJPR.
The tracking of charities is spotty and there's no way to know exactly how much has been donated. But at least half of the donations surveyed has yet to reach storm victims.
The New York attorney general's office has surveyed 88 New York charities and found they raised more than 400 million dollars for Sandy relief. But the last figures were collected in mid-December and don't include all charities.
The New Jersey attorney general's office is only monitoring newly created Sandy charities -- looking out for fraudulent groups.
But some charities, like the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, have been slow in getting the relief aid out there.
The organization, headed by New Jersey first lady Mary Pat Christie, has raised $32 million for storm victims, but only handed out its first million this week following a report by the Asbury Park Press which found it hadn't distributed any of the donations yet.
“Admittedly, we’re learning how to do this,” Mary Pat Christie said. “But I also was willing to take our time and be careful, because I knew the Red Cross was there.”
She says other non-profits have been responding to the immediate needs of storm victims, and her charity is thinking long-term.
A spokesperson for charity says they chose not to raise money for an existing charity because they wanted an organization devoted just to Sandy victims in New Jersey.
New Jersey resident Gigi Liaguno-Dorr in Union Beach, says that if relief money has been out there, it should have been distributed.
“Enough already, it needs to come through,” she said. “These people have no place to live.”
She’s says some of her neighbors are living in campers on their property. Others still can’t go back.
Genoveva Faura has lived in Hoboken for all of her 51 years. Her apartment building was flooded and she was without electricity for a couple weeks.
“It's not fair because people that really need it could get it quick in a certain amount of time, not 5 or 6 [months] or a year later,” Faura said. “The only thing I ask is give it to the people that lost their property, that are trying to fix their property. That’s where the money should go first.”
To date, the Red Cross has collected close to $286 million and they've spent, or made commitments to spend, about $145 million.
The Robin Hood Foundation raised close to $67.5 million – a big chunk from the 12-12-12 concert. They’ve doled out $55 million already, in an effort to reach hardest hit areas that are also low-income.
“But the needs vary,” said Deborah Winshel, president of the Robin Hood Foundation. “We have the very immediate needs, so we’re funding the emergency shelters, emergency food, and now we’re focusing on much longer term needs, primarily around housing.”
About 40 percent of the money they raised is going to New Jersey, she said. The foundation plans to have almost all of the money distributed by the end of the month.