The American Red Cross is giving the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group until the end of 2015 to spend a $1.6 million grant to allow the Toms River non profit agency to continue operating and helping Sandy victims. 

Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group Meeting in Toms River, photo by Dianne DeOliveira, TSM News
Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group Meeting in Toms River, photo by Dianne DeOliveira, TSM News

The agency risked losing the money the Red Cross initially provided to them, according to Bridget Holmes, OCLTRG Assistant Executive Director.

"It was supposed to end at the end of June, 2015 and will in fact take us through December, 2015," said Holmes.

The extension comes as the OCLTRG adjusts its funding requests from both the state and federal government.

"Now we have both operating costs and unmet need dollars through December, 2015," Holmes said, also adding the extension allows the agency to open its rolls and begin taking new referrals again.

"In the last three months, of all of the unmet need requests, 60 percent have been for housing assistance, up from 30 percent from the previous six months," she said.

The OCLTRG was seeking an additional $20 million dollars from the state in federal Sandy aid to be able to continue operating and helping victims.

Sandy victims seeking help with rental and mortgage assistance from the OCLTRG are given financial assistance based on need. Holmes explained the agency doesn't automatically for those things if a financial vetting determines that the household is capable of paying even a portion of those expenses.

"Additionally, we do expect households to access the state's RAP program, Rental Assistance Program, for those people who are eligible, which means they are working with the RREM program, that they have a construction timeline. We do expect that they are following the FEMA sequence of delivery for funds and are using those state funds before they come to us, but in a lot of cases, that program will only offer $825 a month, and for some people, that's all they need, and for some people we are helping to make up the balance,"

Holmes pointed out they agency is hopeful it will continue to stay in operation beyond 2015 with the state's Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation (RREM) grant program still ongoing and with the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) new National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) case reviews for those who want claims reviewed just getting underway.

Holmes added, "We are reaching out to the federal government to request funding as well as going back to the Philanthropic community to see if any of those organizations are able to support us, given that our mission has had to adjust and adapt to accommodate these new programs being rolled out."

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