Robin Hood Foundation saves NJ superstorm non-profit from going broke
Superstorm survivors will be able to continue seeking assistance from the Ocean County Long Term Recovery group through at least 2017, thanks to three grants, including nearly $1.5 million from the Robin Hood Foundation.
Sue Marticek, executive director of the Toms River-based non-profit, is breathing a big sigh of relief since learning of the grants last week.
"We were sitting here holding our breaths that we were going to have to close our doors at the end of December," Marticek said.
The recovery group also received $50,000 from the Community Foundation of New Jersey and $25,000 from the Ocean First Foundation.
She said $1 million of the $1.485 million from the Robin Hood Foundation will be used for homeowners projects, or any type of gaps that they may have in the rebuilding process.
"The rest will be to keep our operations going, most certainly our NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) initiative, which to this date has brought in over $3 million arguing for people with their flood insurance," Marticek said.
Four years after superstorm Sandy, the group continues to help about 300 people directly, according to Marticek. That doesn't include the dozens of participants that attend free legal work shops the group offers for those stuck in recovery.
Contractor fraud continues to be the biggest issue facing Sandy victims, according to Marticek.
She noted the non-profit has channels to go through with FEMA and the state in dealing with problems with theNational Flood Insurance Program and the state Rehabilitation, Reconstruction, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, "but when there are problems with the contractors, that's where we really don't have any leverage and that's probably the biggest problem here.".
Marticek said there are honest builders who are getting caught up in the recovery, that, she said, "perhaps didn't set out to steal money from the homeowners or do a bad job, but it's very easy to get ahead of yourself in this, and come up with a shortage of funding to continue projects."
The recovery group works with other non-profits partners, and Marticek added that's she's elated to form a "coalition of people working together to get the next homeowner across the finish line."
She said non-profit partners include A Future With Hope, Affordable Housing Alliance and St. Bernard Project, which also received money from the Robin Hood Foundation.
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice, Community Health Law Project, the Mental Health Association and the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties are included in the OCLTRG's grant, according to Marticek.
Contact reporter Dianne DeOliveira at Dianne.DeOliveira@townsquaremedia.com.
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