The Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group is seeking $20 million of the final $500 million in federal disaster aid funding earmarked for New Jersey, according to Susan Marticek, Executive Director of the umbrella group for 80 non-profit organizations that have been helping Sandy victims since the 2012 storm. 

Ocean County's Long Term Recovery Committee meets
Ocean County's Long Term Recovery Committee meets/Townsquare Media NJ

The Long Term Recovery Group helps homeowners navigate the state’s complex Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (REMM) program by providing education on compliance requirements and choosing a contractor, as well as volunteer and financial assistance during gaps in the grant process.

“Right now in Louisiana, there are 18,000 homeowners who are not in compliance with their grant program, and collectively they owe $522 million, so we want to learn the lessons from Katrina and implement them now in year two, here in New Jersey,” said Marticek.

Marticek said the successful formula being used in Ocean County for getting people back into their homes quicker, can be developed into a Regional Plan that can be offered to nine other counties.

“I’m afraid that if the non-profits are out of the mix, the progress that we’ve seen will come to a hault,” she said.

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has until February 19 to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), how it plans to spend the third round of federal sandy recovery funds, according to Marticek, who said her group also has informed  state Legislatures about the existing recovery challenges and has urged them for help in securing a portion of the money.

“We think we can be part of that solution, use that last part of money to help the state help the homeowners rebuild and be back in compliance, and without us in the mix, I don’t  have a good feeling that this is going to be anything but a failed program,” she warned.

Marticek added, the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group is the only neutral advocate for homeowners, who don’t trust the state or contractors.

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