Author Topic: One Year Since Sandy, little has changed on Fielder Avenue, Ortley Beach  (Read 1964 times)

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Offline SeaCliff

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So much theoretical money floating out there that hasn't reached it's stated many people still need so much help.


One Year Since Sandy, Little has Changed on
Fielder Avenue, Ortley Beach
Residents Struggle to Obtain State and Federal Grants
Thursday, October 24, 2013
By Coulter Jones / Janet Babin : Host, WNYC News

One year since Sandy washed away whole houses, knocked out
boardwalks and flooded roadways, pockets of the Jersey Shore
remain dead zones, with few residents back at home and little
progress on damaged homes. Residents who applied for federal loans
have fared far better than those who applied for government grants.

In February, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that the
state would initially funnel most of  the $1.8 billion it received in
federal monies on grants for residents and businesses.

"Our goal on this first section of the money, is to use it predominantly
for a homeowner grant program, and a small business grant program,"
Christie said. "Notice I’m saying grants not loans. We know a lot of
our homeowners already have debt."

And yet, a good deal of the grant money has yet to reach residents,
especially those who applied for the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation,
Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program. That program provides a
grant of up to $150,000 for homeowners to rebuild.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs administers the
grants.  It said that of the 15,100 homeowners who applied for the
RREM grant, only 100 applicants have actually received the money.
Another  200 would be receiving their grants by the end of this month,
said Lisa Ryan, Communications Director, New Jersey Department of
Community Affairs, which administers the federal grant.

That leaves thousands of New Jersey residents waiting for the grant money in order to rebuild and in some
cases, elevate their homes to comply with newly mandated federal flood maps.

“It’s hard to find a positive story. What we’ve heard is lots of stories about how people were denied funding
for reasons that were so obviously wrong that it was as if nobody looked at their file,” said Adam Gordon,
staff attorney at non­profit advocacy group Fair Share Housing Center. The group has filed a lawsuit
against the Christie Administration seeking more information about where the grant money is going and
why it's taking so long to reach residents.

The lack of payouts from the RREM program is in sharp contrast to loans originating from the U.S. Small
Business Administration (SBA). Of about 85,000 applicants, all but 100 have been processed.

Fewer than one percent of the applications for disaster loans related to Hurricane Sandy still have to be
processed, according to data from the Small Business Administration. The SBA received more than
85,000 applications, about 100 were being processed as of Monday. The program provides government­
backed lower interest loans to homeowners and businesses who qualify.

The lack of grant money has slowed rebuilding, especially in places hardest hit by the Sandy. "Ortley
Beach was ground zero during Sandy," said Tom Kellaher, Mayor of Toms River Township.

Houses on the town's ocean blocks sustained significant damage.  The township says it's working to
condemn and demolish more than 600 houses that are more than 50% damaged by Sandy and left
abandoned by residents. Some homes still lack basic utilities.

On Fielder Avenue, 10 homes were completely destroyed, and most of the others on the block sustained
more than 50% damaged. WNYC has been visiting the block and collecting the stories of residents and
their struggles to rebuild. Most of the homes are still vacant, and the few that have been rebuilt are rental
properties that qualified for business loans, not grants.

"We weren’t able to get any free money. Through the SBA we secured about $128,000. That’s why you see
it in the condition that it is," said John Rominski who owns three rental units on Fielder Avenue.
He's hoping to see more construction happening in his neighborhood soon, as are other residents.


« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 08:43:24 AM by SeaCliff »
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Offline Mayday

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15k applicants and only 100 people received funds in one year?  That's a disgrace.

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Offline CJsurf

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I haven't been up there in a few weeks but little had changed the last time I was up. 
Government has made a mess of things.  Even in my own efforts on my house were not guided by the market or what was best overall to recover specifically from the storm.  My reaction to the storm was based on the impending government problems due to the Biggert Watters Act.  My house was flooded with chest deep water.  It was bad.  I've sat on the money I've gotten to protect myself financially because of the changes in the flood insurance program.  I've not used that money as it was intended to fix my home.  Its just sitting there in the bank while I wait the political situation out.  I've only done the bare minimum repairs to make my house livable.  This January when my flood insurance bill comes it will be decision time I suppose.  There are probably a lot of people just like me who are financially paralyzed by the politics of the situation and the uncertainty in the flood insurance program.