Sandy Dollars Up for Grabs [AUDIO]
Hundreds of Superstorm Sandy-impacted households in New Jersey could be missing out on a solid chunk of financial assistance from the federal government.
Gov. Chris Christie announced Wednesday that funding has exceeded $11 million within a voucher program that targets storm survivors dealing with home repairs or temporary housing. However, the state was allotted $54 million to distribute, meaning tens of millions of dollars are still up for grabs.
"There may be folks who haven't utilized it yet, and if you haven't, you still can," Christie announced in Ocean County, which has had the largest number of applicants so far.
"Households from Cape May County to Bergen County are eligible but may not be informed about this program," added Jennifer Velez, commissioner of the state Department of Human Services. "That's why it's important to make sure residents know how critical this program can be to their recovery."
Eligible recipients are provided up to $15,000 over six months to help with mortgage or rent payments, as well as utility bills and costs related to essential household items like beds and appliances.
- Have financial distress due to housing damage caused by Sandy
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible alien
- Not currently receiving or eligible for Work First New Jersey/Supplemental Security Income benefits
- Legally or blood related if part of a household
"It can help you with maintaining your temporary housing while your primary residence is being repaired or rebuilt," Christie said. "It can maintain a primary residence for the household to return to when repairs and construction are completed."
Brick resident Christian Wicker was one of the first to apply for the voucher program when it launched in October 2013. His waterside neighborhood experienced a 7-foot tidal surge during the storm one year prior.
"The program did allow me to stay current on my taxes, my mortgage, my utilities," said Wicker, who moved back into his damaged home in November, despite an ongoing battle with his flood insurance company.
An estimated 7,300 storm survivors have received assistance so far from the program.