Housing lottery in Fort Monmouth following Sandy

Housing lottery in Fort Monmouth following Sandy

Residents of New Jersey who were left homeless in the wake of Superstorm Sandy are to be entered into a lottery in order to be given housing, which could be available from as early as next week, in a closed military base, according to Governor Chris Christie.

Utilities still have to be hooked up for between 400 to 600 units in former communications base Fort Monmouth, which is situated in Oceanport in New Jersey, after which displaced residents could begin to move in, the governor announced at a news conference held on Tuesday.

Thousands of residents from all across the northeast have been the victims of forced relocation because of the hurricane, with New York and New Jersey having suffered the worst of the damage.  The demand for temporary shelters has been far outstripping the available supply, which makes having a lottery one of the fastest and fairest ways to provide shelter to residents, according to officials from the Department of Community Affairs of New Jersey.

A task force was created by the department in order to find temporary housing and has so far succeeded in being able to identify over 5,000 different shelters across the rental units, motels, state and federal properties and hotels in the state, the Los Angeles Times was told yesterday by community affairs spokeswoman Lisa Ryan.  The task force is to provide Christie with a report detailing some of the other options by the end of this week, which means that many of them will most likely not actually be available for quite some time.  Last week the Federal Emergency Management Agency started to send mobile homes to the region after requests for assistance from the state.  Over 369,000 people in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have registered for assistance from FEMA, with 100,000 qualifying for assistance with temporary shelters. The agency has freed up over $455 million in funds in order to help.

State and federal resources have a juggling act on their hands when it comes to the recovery from Hurricane Sandy, with estimates putting the amount of damage caused by the storm at somewhere in the region of $50 billion.  In addition to the housing problems, tens of thousands of people in the hardest hit areas of both New Jersey and New York also continue to be without basic needs such as gas and electricity, with both public and private sector workers being drawn in to try and rebuild the vital infrastructure.

Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of New York, has called for 100% of the reimbursement of the recovery costs of the state to come from FEMA, estimating that $33 billion of damage has been done to his state by the storm, while many of the commercial industries in New Jersey remain under water and an emergency declaration is being sought for the commercial and recreational fishing industry in the state by Christie.  Homeowners in the disaster zone in New Jersey face the prospect of higher property taxes as the costs continue to mount.

Lance Grooms