A June by 26, 2013, article by Hank Kalet in NJ Spotlighthighlighted those “living with friends or family, with no leases and no permanent address, Sandy’s displaced are hard to find and harder to help.”
Marianne Majewski, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Metuchen Diocese, said that there are a large number of displaced people who are not counted in official numbers, because they are not homeowners or they may not have had leases. Catholic Charities has made reaching out to them a priority, but it is difficult to know how many there are or where they are living.
“There are a lot of people sleeping on people’s couches,” she said. “They are living hand to mouth and don’t have money for a security deposit and furniture.”
Melissa Chedid, who was a caseworker for Catholic Charities through mid-May, said that many end up “staying with in-laws or staying with family.” They are “not trackable,” she said, because they are not in shelters and have not reached out to public or private agencies for direct assistance. When interviewed in May, she said she had about 10 clients living with other people — about a third of her active client list.
“They are not ones we consider displaced because they are in a place,” she said. “But they are displaced.”
Majewski said the situation at a low-income apartment building in Carteret was typical of the difficulties Catholic Charities faced tracking those who were displaced. About half of the 120 tenants could not be found in the weeks after the storm, and even after significant outreach and detective work, Majewski said they were only able to locate 10 additional tenants. That meant that 50 of them remain displaced and may not be receiving services.
In addition, Kevin Walsh, director of the Fair Share Housing Center, said:
“The most vulnerable now are those who were most vulnerable then and they are more vulnerable now than they were before. Without a concerted effort from the government and others it will probably have a lifetime impact.”