Fund to help with elevating Sandy-damaged houses

Gov. Christie announced the program in Brick, N.J. Eligible homeowners can apply online, by phone, or in person at Housing Recovery Centers in the nine counties most affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Gov. Christie announced the program in Brick, N.J. Eligible homeowners can apply online, by phone, or in person at Housing Recovery Centers in the nine counties most affected by Hurricane Sandy. (MEL EVANS / Associated Press)
Posted: July 24, 2013

New Jersey on Monday announced a $100 million fund to help primary homeowners with the cost of elevating homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

The fund will grant up to $30,000 to reimburse homeowners for elevation work performed on existing single-family homes to meet new flood-map requirements.

Homeowners who have begun or completed elevation work are not eligible to receive the grant, the state said, though preparatory work will not disqualify the homeowner from possible reimbursement for the actual elevation work.

Homeowners already receiving grants through the state's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) program are ineligible for this supplemental funding.

This program still leaves out second homeowners, many of whom are struggling to repair homes with inadequate insurance settlements. In addition, as with the RREM program, any work already completed is not eligible to be reimbursed.

Both programs are being administered by the state Department of Community Affairs as part of the disbursement of $20 billion in Sandy aid sent to New Jersey by the federal government.

"Elevation will literally raise these houses out of harm's way of potential flooding and is an important step in preventing and mitigating damage from future storms," Christie said in a statement.

Christie appeared in Brick with DCA Commissioner Richard Constable and Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin to announce the program.

The grant program announced Monday, known as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), is similar to FEMA's ICC (Increased Cost of Compliance) grant, which also offers grants of up to $30,000 for complying with new flood elevation requirements.

There is no income qualification for the state's grant, and prior registration with FEMA is not required. Eligible work must be done after historical and environmental reviews. The costs will be borne by the property owner and reimbursed when it is completed.

Eligible homeowners can apply for elevation grant assistance at www.renewjerseystronger.org or by calling 1-855-SANDYHM (1-855-726-3946). People can also apply in person at one of the Housing Recovery Centers open in each of the nine most affected counties.

The application period closes Sept. 15. Applications will be prioritized by flooding risk and then by amount of Sandy-related damage, and also by the number of feet a home needs to be elevated to bring it into compliance. The DCA estimates that 2,700 eligible homeowners will receive reimbursements.

In Brick, according to a video and transcript provided by the governor's office, Christie addressed criticism that he was focused more on encouraging tourists to return with the Stronger Than the Storm campaign than helping hurting homeowners.

"I've met some homeowners who have complained to me," Christie said in Brick. "They've said, 'You know, we see these advertisements on the television saying we're stronger than the storm. We see people on TV saying come back to the Jersey Shore, but my home is not back. I'm not taken care of. How can you say that?'

Christie continued: "Listen, everybody. We've got to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. If we don't talk about the good things that are happening in our state in order to draw more people back, tourists back to this area, they may never come back.

"And so understand that when we do the advertising that we've done and we say we're stronger than the storm and we want people to come back, it is not out of any disrespect for those people who are still suffering. In fact, I would say it's just the opposite. It's because we want to rebuild what you had and make it better."

"Please don't think that when I keep encouraging people to come back to the Shore that I mean everything is better," Christie said.


Contact Amy S. Rosenberg at 609-823-0453 or arosenberg@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter and Instagram @amysrosenberg.

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