Status OF Transition Sheltering Assistance Extension Is Uncertain. Refugees Left To Fend For Themselves With No Notice
By Art Gallagher
Evicitions from FEMA sponsored hotel accommodations are continuing this weekend for New Jersey residents whose homes were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. MoreMonmouthMusings reported on Wednesday that some residents have been left to sleep in their cars on weekends.
NJ.com is reporting that the Ocean Place Resort in Long Branch is evicting refugees to accomodate a pre-booked scrapbooking retreat.
Highlands residents Angus Mcdougland and Leia Sims have been living at Ocean Place since Sandy destoyed their home. This morning they received a notice from the hotel that they needed to check out today or pay $260 per night to stay. Mcdougland told MMM that there is a college basketball team filling the hotel, in addition to the scrapbookers.
Lois Pongo, also of Highlands, was locked out the room where she’s been staying this week at the Holiday Inn in Hazlet this morning. Hotel employees told her that she was no longer eligible for transitional housing assistance. Pongo paid for her room for tonight and is scrambling to get her contractors to finish the repairs on her home this weekend.
Pongo visited the FEMA Recovery Center in Leonardo on Thursday to verify that her temporary housing was to be extended. She was left with the impression that her temporary housing was in place. The Leonardo FEMA office which had been so helpful earlier this week said they could not help her today.
Governor Christie announced on Thursday that FEMA’s transitional housing program had been extended for two weeks until January 25th. Evidently someone at FEMA gave Christie bad or incomplete information.
Posted: January 12th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, FEMA, Hurricane Sandy | Tags: Angus Mcdougland, CBS, FEMA, Holiday Inn Hazlet, Leia Sims, Lois Pongo, NJ.com, Ocean Place Long Branch, sleeping in cars, weekend evictions for FEMA hotels | 1 Comment »
New Jersey Approved for 14-Day Extension of Program
Trenton, NJ –The Christie Administration today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program has been extended for 14 days to the end of January 25, 2013.
“We continue to encourage people who sustained losses as a result of Sandy to register with FEMA if they haven’t already,” said Governor Christie. “Help is available, but the first and most important step to receiving assistance is to contact FEMA.”
FEMA activated its Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy at New Jersey’s request. The program allows eligible survivors who cannot return to their homes because of damage caused by the storm to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing is available.
The extension means eligible people can receive TSA assistance through January 25 with a check-out date of January 26, 2013.
Individuals and households may be eligible for TSA if they register with FEMA for assistance; pass identity verification; have a primary residence located in a geographic area that is designated for TSA; and are displaced from their residence.
Individuals who have questions regarding their eligibility should contact the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA).
To register with FEMA, call the phone number listed above or visit www.disasterassistance.govon the Internet.
Posted: January 10th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Christie Administration, FEMA | Tags: Chris Christie, FEMA, sleeping in cars, Temporary Housing | 1 Comment »
O’Scanlon: Temporary FEMA Housing to be extended for two weeks
Displaced residents should call Assemblyman O’Scanlon’s offfice for help: 732-933-1591
Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long told MMM that the residents of her community that have been sleeping in cars are people who have been put up in hotels by FEMA who are evicted by the hotels on weekends in order to accommodate wedding guests.
“When hotels have weddings or events, people get evicted for the weekend,” Long said via twitter, “I just learned of people sleeping in cars because of this and I’m hopping mad.”
Long said that FEMA’s response has been, “Well, when that happens the people should call us.” Yet, when people do call FEMA’s 800 #, the FEMA employees who answer the phone are dropping the ball or don’t know what to do.
Long said she trying to reach her displaced residents in this situation to coordinate weekend housing through Sea Bright Rising and other charities. “FEMA knows where my people are, I need their help in locating them.”
Union Beach Councilman Charlie Cocuzza told MMM that the same situation is happening to displaced residents of his borough. “The hotels are asking people to leave on Friday and tell them they can come back on Sunday night,” said Cocuzza, “These people are falling through the cracks on weekends.”
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon said that his legislative office has been transformed to a clearing house for temporary housing to match people in need with a roof over their heads. “This should not be happening,” said O’Scanlon, “but too often we’re hearing about it too late. No one should be sleeping in their cars. Anyone, from my district or not, can call my office and we’ll find them a place to stay.”
O’Scanlon’s office said landlords or anyone willing to put up a displaced resident can also contact them. O’Scanlon’s phone # is 732-933-1591.
FEMA temporay housing allowances are set to expire on Saturday the 12th. O’Scanlon told MMM that the program will be extended for two weeks.
Posted: January 9th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Declan O'Scanlon, FEMA, Hurricane Sandy, Sea Bright, Union Beach | Tags: Charlie Cocuzza, Declan O'Scanlon, Dina Long, FEMA, Sea Bright, sleeping in cars, Temporary Housing, Union Beach | 4 Comments »
In an interview with NJ.com Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long expressed her frustration with a lack of specifics in Governor Christie’s State of the State Address, even though she said she is meeting with state officials and FEMA today.
“We’re glad we’re on the governor’s radar, but the story of the owner of Sea Bright Pizza, Cono Trezza, is emblematic of my entire community,” Long said, citing one of many Sea Bright establishments yet to be back in business. “We want to do the right thing in terms of rebuilding by doing it smarter and by mitigating flood risk. Unfortunately, because of a lack of specificity coming from the state of New Jersey, and a lack of support and money from Washington, D.C., people who want to do the right thing are in limbo. I’m glad that we’re Jersey strong, because we’re going to have to be strong enough to pull ourselves out of this. We’re a 1,500-person town with a $5 million budget that needs help, and we’re not getting help.”
“I would not respond well to somebody who criticized this Republican governor, because [Christie] has been a determined, inspirational leader,” Long said. “But in order for us to rebuild smart from Sandy, we need more than just moral support. We need to know whether or not we’re going to get financial assistance or not. And if the answer is not, that’s fine – we’ll figure it out ourselves.”
Long’s frustration is understandable. Frustration among municipal officials and residents alike is likely to rise in the coming weeks and months as the difficult realities of rebuiding are confronted. Yet, for a mayor to expect the Governor to recite what specific actions will be taken in any given town during a State of the State Address is unrealistic, especially when that Governor highlighted your town during the address and you’ve got a meeting to handle specifics scheduled for the next day.
However, Long’s next line is alarming and should have been the lead to the story:
“Every day that goes by, the resolve of our business owners goes away,” Long added. “I’ve got people sleeping in cars – I could care less about the boardwalk.” (emphasis added)
Why are people sleeping in cars?
A friend of mine whose home in Highlands was flooded by Sandy has been staying with friends, at no cost to the taxpayers, for the last two months during her home clean up and rebuilding. That arrangement stopped working last weekend. My friend visited the FEMA office in Leonardo and was put up in a hotel in a matter of hours. That residents of Sea Bright are sleeping in cars doesn’t make sense. Maybe they are choosing to sleep in their cars. Maybe someone is dropping the ball. Maybe there is red tape. Red tape and dropping the ball is unacceptable.
My friend says that FEMA temporary housing is expiring on the 12th. That could lead to a lot more people sleeping in cars. That’s not acceptable either.
Where is all the money that was raised by concerts being spent? How is the millions that Christie raised privately being spent? Evidently its not being spent on people in Sea Bright and elsewhere who have been displaced and are sleeping in cars.
We can’t have people who are displaced by a natural disaster sleeping in cars because of red tape. Not in Monmouth County. Not in New Jersey. Not in the United States of America.
We’re better than that.
UPDATE: Displaced residents are sleeping in cars because they are being evicted from their hotels on weekends to accommodate wedding guests. Read about it here.
Posted: January 9th, 2013 | Author: Art Gallagher | Filed under: Chris Christie, FEMA, Highlands, Hurricane Sandy, Sea Bright | Tags: Chris Christie, Dina Long, FEMA, Sea Bright, sleeping in cars | 4 Comments »