Across New Jersey 346,000 housing units were destroyed or damaged by the storm, according to NJ Department of Community Affairs. More than 8,000 homes in Monmouth County and 23,000 homes in Ocean County sustained major to severe damage.
The hardest hit group, in an analysis presented by Enterprise Community Partners and NYU's Furman Center for Real Estate and Public Policy, are lower-income renters earning under $30,000 per year. Six months after Sandy, an estimated 39,000 NJ residents still remained displaced, with the majority of those individuals formerly renters or homeowners in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
“Many New Jersey residents were already facing economic challenges before Sandy hit,” says Donna Blaze, Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit Affordable Housing Alliance, based in Eatontown, NJ (www.housingall.org).
“Many working poor families in Monmouth and Ocean counties lost their homes or were severely impacted as a direct result of the storm,” says Blaze. “As time has gone on, people have also been peripherally affected by loss of work or underemployment. Affordable housing was already at a premium before Sandy. Now, even lower vacancy rates are making it extremely difficult to find affordable housing in the community where your children go to school, where your friends and family are, or in a location that is easily accessible to your job. Uncounted numbers of people are still sleeping on sofas at the home of a friend or relative or living in other temporary arrangements.”
Affordable Housing Alliance Partners in Rebuilding Efforts, New Programs
Shortly after its nationally-televised12-12-12 concert, the Robin Hood Relief Fund awarded the Alliance one of the largest disaster relief grants in the tri-state area. This million dollar grant funded the construction of 17 manufactured homes at the Alliance’s Pine Tree Manufactured Home Park in Eatontown for permanently or temporarily displaced families. Six additional homes, for a total of 23 units, have been ordered through additional funding from Robin Hood, NJ Sandy Relief Fund and NeighborWorks America. These homes are being analyzed as models for emergency housing in post-disaster areas nationwide by the nonprofit housing organization, Next Steps, whose goal is to develop sustainable homeownership through factory-built housing. The Alliance is working with these renters at Pine Tree to provide counseling and education to help them become first time homeowners.
Hundreds of economically-challenged families have been screened by the Alliance for immediate needs and assistance by its Disaster Housing Recovery Counselor. The Alliance is currently working with 177 families who need rental housing.
AHA has provided almost $80,000 in security deposit assistance for those who have moved in to rental housing. Householders who lost home goods in the storm have been awarded over $27,000 in replacement items, primarily from Boscov’s and Home Depot, as well as, in the last few weeks, 80 queen and 10 twin size mattresses donated by Ashley Furniture.
The Alliance has created a new Home Share Program which currently has 70 home seekers and 16 home provider applications in the process of being matched.
Over 400 homeowners, volunteers and contractors attended Mold Remediation Workshops over the past few months.
Thanks to Our Many Partners
“Many organizations have stepped up to help our efforts. Other major funders for the Alliance’s Sandy recovery programs include Bank of America, Capital One, Citi, Freddie Mac, United Way Rebuild Monmouth, and Wells Fargo, among others. We are deeply grateful for the support of many donors, our Board and staff, and community leaders throughout the area who have been working with us to rebuild and are committed to continuing these efforts going forward,” says Blaze. “Together, we have done a lot but there is much that remains to be done.”