FEMA Extends Hotel Voucher Program but Notes Positive Trend
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is extending its Transitional Sheltering Assistance program (TSA) in New Jersey for another two weeks as the housing needs continue to dwindle following Superstorm Sandy.
FEMA officials say currently, 2,790 households are checked into hotels and motels around the state but by Saturday, January 12th, 1300 New Jersey households will no longer need the TSA program. FEMA Spokesman Marty Bahamonde attributes the success to "people are getting their homes repaired. We have additional housing that's coming on line at Fort Monmouth. So that number will continually decline."
There however remains a large number of families who have no place to go. FEMA Spokeswoman Christine Grant says "an estimated 1100 households are expected to remain in a hotel or motel as part of the extension while FEMA and the state continue to work with each of those households to find a longer-term housing solution." Grant says for them, the two week extension will go into effect on Saturday January 12th and will end on Saturday January 26th.
She urges disaster survivors who remain in the program to update the information in their FEMA applications by calling the toll-free FEMA Help Line at 1-800-621-3362.
According to FEMA, more than 5400 households have stayed in more than 430 hotels and motels through out New Jersey for an average of 25 days since November 1st. Grant says FEMA and the state has been and continues to provide rental resources and referrals to partner agencies to help Sandy survivors. However, she notes that even though they're showing rental units available, not all these units are suitable for every household.
During a Thursday teleconference, FEMA officials say the time it's taking to find more permanent housing solutions for New Jersey residents is typical during any disaster situation. They say displaced families are being housed all over the state but the highest concentration is in Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
FEMA estimates that so far over $17-million has been spent through the TSA program.