Advocates Seek Assistance for Renters Displaced by Sandy
A March 17, 2013 article in USA Today, “Sandy Recovery Slow for Renters,” profiles a New Jersey family that had to make to make the hard decision to relocate to Florida.
Displaced from their rented property in Seaside Heights and unable find affordable housing in New Jersey in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, they moved, after spending two months living in shelters and a hotel, to Jacksonville.
Renee Sotelo voices the feelings that many other displaced households feel,
“I’m not asking for much. It’s just very disheartening the way my family and a lot of others have been treated. They say they’re getting millions of dollars in donations, but most of the people aren’t seeing any of it. We didn’t want to leave New Jersey. We had to.”
“Why do I want to go back to a place I’ve called home my whole life that has basically turned their back on me and my family?” Renee Sotelo wondered, embittered as she hears the daily reports about the pace of rebuilding along the Jersey Shore from the place they’re renting for $750 a month. “When we were in the shelters, my whole family, we volunteered from the moment we got there … so to be ignored, and worse yet forgotten about, is just very disheartening. Very upsetting.”
And although the announcement of the state’s plan to spend the first round of Sandy CDBG-DR disaster funding is a welcome first start, advocates like Monarch Housing and the Fair Share Housing Center are concerned that this funding will only help 1 out of 20 renters.
And in Seaside Heights, data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shows that:
After Sandy, Ocean County had the largest number of requests for FEMA – 52,878 and
77 percent of renters in Seaside Heights earn less than $30,000 per year.