After Closing On A RREM Grant, DCA Says A New Home For Vietnam Vet Is Not In The Cards
By Art Gallagher
Russell Card Jr removes his “family crest” from his family’s home in Highlands in preparation for demolition . Photo via facebook
A Vietnam Veteran from Highlands and his 65 year-old wife had their expectations of a new home crushed last week when their RREM approved builder informed them that a stop work order had been placed on their project by the Department of Community Affairs, with no explanation. The family had prepared their house for demolition, based upon promises from DCA/RREM, and now fear they will be without a home.
Russell Card, a 72 year-old Vietnam Veteran from Highlands closed on his $150,000 RREM grant on July 28. He put up his $18,000 escrow to cover the difference between the cost of the project and the amount granted. Card, his wife Maureen and son Russell Jr, 35, prepared their home (which was built in the 1890’s and in the family since 1933) for demolition. They moved most of their belongings into a POD on their immaculately maintained property and moved themselves into an apartment the size of the living room in the Bay Avenue house they have lived in since 1986. By mid-September all the utilities were disconnected at the house and it was ready for demolition before their new home would be built. The funding for the new home was the RREM grant, a gap grant of $30,000 from Gap Funding Initiative and $17,762 that was remaining from a $55,000 grant Mrs. Card had received from her employer, CareOne, after Sandy filled their home with eight feet of water on October 29, 2012.
On April 29 of last year, six months to the day after Sandy made landfall, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stood with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan in a seafood restaurant in Highlands, NJ. Surrounded by cameras, Donovan…
New bill reauthorizes regional contribution agreements for Sandy affected counties
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon will introduce new legislation tomorrow that reauthorizes regional contribution agreements (RCAs) between towns in the nine most Superstorm Sandy-impacted counties. These agreements will permit the transfer of housing units to count towards a recipient municipality’s fair share obligation. These types of agreements were originally permitted under the Coalition On Affordable Housing where one town could transfer a portion of its affordable housing obligation to another. RCAs were banned in 2008.
“I’ve always said that the law banning RCAs was shortsighted,” explained O’Scanlon. “I want to go on record saying I disagree with this far reaching court-mandated housing scheme. But if we have to have it, there should be a mix of options for municipalities to deal with it. “Mayor John Hornik of Marlboro recently revived the discussion of RCAs in relation to those areas affected by Sandy. We have seized on that common ground and developed legislation reauthorizing RCAs to help facilitate the construction, reconstruction or rehabilitation of housing in areas hardest hit by Sandy. We can finally put these funds to work creating affordable housing and helping towns recover from the storm at the same time. I look forward to working with Mayor Hornik on this as we work to persuade the legislative leadership to join the effort.”
Assemblyman urges Bayshore residents to ask Senate President Sweeney join the bi-partisan effort
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, issued a statement today welcoming Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik’s support of Regional Contribution Agreements (RCA) for use in getting Sandy victims back into their homes, and called upon residents of his Bayshore district to question Senate President Sweeney the use of Affordable Housing Funds when Sweeney visits the district for his Town Hall meeting in Keansburg on Thursday afternoon.
“Recently, Marlboro Mayor Jon Hornik suggested that RCAs could be used by towns to help their neighbors continue to rebuild in the devastating wake of Sandy,” O’Scanlon said, “My Republican colleagues and I have been calling for the use of RCAs for years and I am excited to hear that Mayor Hornik is on board. When the Democrat leadership in Trenton killed the RCA program it was bad, short sighted policy that many of us knew would come back to bite us. Its flaws are now magnified by the plight of Sandy victims as many towns struggle with the economic burdening of rebuilding.
Forgotten among the latest round of finger-pointing and investigations regarding the use of Superstorm Sandy funds are displaced low and moderate-income homeowners and renters who need help. This immediate and pressing need, combined with resources available from communities like Marlboro Township, in the form of affordable housing trust funds, present a unique opportunity for regional cooperation. Now all we need is some action in Trenton.
The funds, collected from developer fees, now totaling at least $180 million state-wide (and which the State has been trying to take for its own budget problems), are to be used to meet the need for affordable housing under the Supreme Court’s Mt. Laurel rulings. Those cases decreed that every town has an obligation to provide for its region’s need for affordable housing. We have long argued that the doctrine should be meaningfully applied – let’s build the housing where the need is the greatest.
Yet to this day the planners in Trenton wrangle over rules to determine how towns must address their affordable housing, going on 15 years now, when it should be painfully obvious that the need for our community (and our region) is staring us in the face. Current state laws prohibit Marlboro from helping those communities who are in desperate need for housing assistance after Sandy. There is no mechanism for Marlboro to spend its trust funds for the benefit of, for example, Union Beach or the Highlands, because there are no rules that allow us to do so. We can’t fulfill a fundamental tenet of Mt. Laurel, and help our neighbors because the authority to do so isn’t there. And why not?
Many displaced residents cannot sign long term lease but need place to stay.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon today made a public call to all landlords to help those in need of emergency housing. Since Superstorm Sandy left thousands displaced, many are looking for temporary housing while their homes are repaired or rebuilt.
“FEMA is working to provide temporary housing to all who have been displaced,” O’Scanlon said. “Many who use the housing research tools provided by FEMA are discovering that, while there is housing available, many of the landlords require a 6 six month or one year lease.”