Housing Assistance Programs for Super Storm Sandy Survivors

Categories:
Emergency Response, Families, Health Factors, Human Trafficking, Runaway & Homeless Youth, Youth

Photo of remains of a home in Union Beach, N.J.A photo taken on Nov. 8, 2012, in Union Beach, N.J., by Patsy Lynch of FEMA. The remains of a home stand as a stark reminder of nature's power after Hurricane Sandy swept through the area.After more than 18 months in which Super Storm Sandy pounded coastal areas and devastated the Jersey shore and around New York City, there has been slow and steady recovery. The storm destroyed thousands of homes and caused billions of dollars in damage, and it exposed particular vulnerabilities in affordable housing. 

It displaced individuals and families from their storm-damaged homes throughout the region. An already-tight rental market became scarce because of the sheer number of storm survivors looking to rent affordable and low-income housing. 

Countless families are still doubling up with relatives or friends, living in short-term rentals, or temporary housing provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). And, the storm had a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable in society, some of whom were already at-risk of homelessness or had marginal housing and dealing with disabling conditions and life challenges.  Here are a few housing assistance programs in New Jersey and New York that aim to help storm survivors.

New Jersey.  In New Jersey, Super Storm Sandy destroyed 360,000 homes and apartments.  The Administration for Children and Families allocated nearly $227 million in supplemental funding to NJ’s Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program, which has supported a range of supportive housing assistance services. Here are a few highlights:

  • Sandy Homeowner Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP) is a temporary relief program to assist individuals and families experiencing a housing crisis resulting from Super Storm Sandy. The program provides rental or mortgage assistance, utility payments or replacement of essential household items to affected households. The program is time-limited and caps at $15,000 in vouchers per household. To date, the program has served 4,883 households comprised of 11,444 individuals. A total of $20.4 million has been expended.
  • Atlantic County Integrated Homeless Assistance Model is a coordinated homeless prevention program to address the increased need for services as a result of the Super Storm Sandy. The program is a gateway to referrals and linkages to connect homeless individuals with needed services. In February 2014, the program was launched and conducted 508 individual assessments over two months.
  • Human Trafficking Prevention. NJ increased its capacity to provide street outreach services to homeless youth in Super Storm Sandy impacted countries in order to promote rescue intervention and prevention of human and/or sex trafficking of youth, to provide youth with linkages to the stabilization and supportive resources they need and prepare youth for independence. SSBG funds were used to expand the Street Outreach program from 5 to 13 counties across the state.

New York. In New York, more than 200,000 households in four main areas were affected by the storm including Nassau, Queens, Kings and Suffolk counties. New York has primarily relied on disaster relief funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to provide housing assistance services to storm survivors. ACF allocated approximately $235 million in supplemental funding to the NY’s Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program, which has supported a range of housing-related assistance services. Here are a few highlights:

  • Long Island Coalition for the Homeless to make needed repairs at a community center that houses 10 not-for-profit organizations that will provide services to homeless persons, including homeless veterans.  Organizations will provide assistance to obtain or retain affordable housing options.  Extensive outreach is being conducted to connect those most in need with case management, legal assistance, job placement, homelessness prevention and housing stabilization services. 
  • Hetrick-Martin Institute, Street Outreach to Homeless Youth Program is designed to engage homeless and street-involved lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth who were victims of Super Storm Sandy. This program will conduct outreach to these youth and provide on-the-street counseling, assessment, and referral services, as well as offer survival kits.  This is intended to be a very mobile service model that will assist these vulnerable youth in obtaining services, getting to appointments, and providing general support.
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