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What Impact Did Sandy Have On NJ’s Homeless? [AUDIO]

Every year, nearly 30,000 New Jerseyans find themselves homeless. In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, many others were forced from their homes and into shelters and hotel rooms.

NYPD officer giving a homeless man a new pair of boots (Facebook photo via NYPD’s Facebook page)

So, what does this mean for the homeless population in New Jersey over the long-term?

What does it mean for those who were homeless prior to Sandy?

“How much worse has the homeless situation in New Jersey gotten? That’s what we’re trying to figure out. We know that there were plenty of people who were living on the edge, who were either facing foreclosure or who were living precariously because they had lost jobs. Now, if they lost their place as a result of Sandy, the question is, are those people going to be able to not fall into a longer cycle of homelessness and join the ranks of those who are already homeless in New Jersey?” said Alison Recca-Ryan, Director of the New Jersey Office of the Corporation of Supportive Housing. “We are anticipating that we’ll see new homeless enter the system when we do our count in January.”

There are groups all over New Jersey that work on a continuous basis to try and find permanent housing for the homeless in New Jersey. “It’s tough for someone who’s been homeless for a long time to rent an apartment, even when you have a rental voucher, because landlords can be very strict with background checks and credit checks,” said Recca-Ryan. “As a result of Sandy, we now have a whole new crop of people who need to find temporary rentals. When someone goes to look for an apartment and the landlord is presented with someone who has been temporarily displaced from Sandy and someone who has been homeless for a long time, it puts those who were homeless who were already down at the bottom of the list even lower when it comes to getting a place to live.”

“So, in addition to increasing the numbers of homeless people, we also think it’s going to be more difficult for those who have been homeless to compete for the limited number of apartments that are available,” said Recca-Ryan. “It’s going to be a matter of what Federal Emergency Management Agency is going to be able to do and what additional resources will be needed. We’ll have a much better handle on that in January after the homeless population is counted.”

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