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Jersey’s Sandy Displaced Families Get Help From Housing Program

Federal money continues to assist some of the hardest hit Superstorm Sandy survivors. Hundreds of storm-displaced low income residents are getting financial assistance to move into permanent residences through Section 8 Special Admissions vouchers, a program funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that’s awarded to the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

Bay Head resident Judy Scheller, by DCA

During a Press Conference in Asbury Park Thursday, DCA Assistant Commissioner Ana Montero says 1,000 vouchers were earmarked for the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program by the Christie Administration in December of 2012. “More than 700 of those thousand vouchers have been provided to individuals in New Jersey and of those individuals who have received the vouchers, more than half of them have moved into permanent housing.”

Low income New Jersey families displaced by the Superstorm have been living in area hotels for months through FEMA’S Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program. The new homeless have been faced with New Jersey’s notoriously high priced housing market, the need for security payments and the overall lack of safe affordable housing, especially in communities most affected by the storm. The DCA says the Special Admissions Vouchers have been instrumental in helping these families.

However, even with the federal funding, getting families into more permanent housing has been a daunting task. The DCA and the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) has been working with a number of agencies, landlords and realtors to help more families. DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez, who also attended yesterday’s press conference, said “nearly seven months from Superstorm Sandy’s landfall, we collectively remain committed to securing short and long term housing for people left homeless by its devastation.”

Former Bay Head resident and voucher recipient Judy Scheller attended the event. She said she had been living with friends and family through out the state and country after being displaced by Sandy. She says in March when her Landlord was renovating her residence, she learned that her lease was being canceled so that it could be used as a summer rental. Scheller says thanks to the voucher program, she’s now about to move into permanent housing in Matawan. “I actually can now afford to be in my own home which would not be possible if it wasn’t for the Section 8 Voucher.”

The DCA says voucher applications are still being accepted from households that are referred to them by a collaborating agency such as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and Legal Services of New Jersey. However, they must meet a long list of eligibility requirements.

According to the state agencies, the Federally-funded housing vouchers average approximately $9,840 per year per household.

Click here to get more information about the Section 8 Voucher Program.

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