NJ Spotlight reports that the State has committed more than $1 billion in housing recovery program assistance but that does not mean that all of the funding has been spent. The amount spent only totals $630 million. Across the state, 3,600 homeowners received assistance through the RREM (Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation program) but twice as many remain waiting for assistance.
Quoted in an International Business News article,
“Very little federal money has gotten out and a lot of those people still at risk are low-income,” said Adam Gordon, staff attorney at Fair Share Housing Center, an organization focused on housing issues facing New Jersey’s poorest residents.
“There is no official estimate of how many New Jersey families remain displaced. The survey results suggest that this number is still high and that only a small number have made it back into their homes over the past year, ‘said a Monmouth University Poll. ‘Specifically, among survey participants who were waiting to return to their homes when Monmouth spoke with them last year, just 28 percent have been able to move back, while two-thirds (67 percent) are still displaced and another 6 percent say they will never return to their damaged homes.’”
Increased demand at a local food bank is just one example of the lingering effect of the slow recovery.
“’It was a one-two punch. We were barely getting over the recession and then Sandy came along,’ said Carlos Rodriguez, executive director of the FoodBank of Monmouth & Ocean Counties Inc., which supplies food donations to more than 300 charity programs in the two counties.
Stacked among the boxes of food and fresh produce at the food bank’s headquarters are boxes set aside for families without access to ordinary cooking materials. Workers choose items such as peanut butter and jam, cans that open with tabs and other foods that require little preparation, for families living in hotels or homes without a standard kitchen.”
In the International Businesses News, the high cost of rental housing and the shortage of affordable rental housing in New Jersey is making it even harder for struggling households.
To pay for a two-bedroom apartment in New Jersey at average market rent, a minimum wage worker has to work 141 hours every week with no vacation, one of the highest rates in the country, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.”
And even if households get money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there is a shortage of housing that is affordable. Displaced homeowners are living in trailers in the property or moving around staying in motels and hotels and with family and friends.