PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Ensuring that flood victims get into livable housing as quickly as possible is one of the top goals of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of New Jersey Office of Emergency Management.
Housing assistance is one of the grant programs available to residents affected by the floods resulting from Tropical Storm Floyd in the following declared counties: Bergen, Essex, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union.
Individuals who suffered damages to their homes in the declared counties are urged to apply for assistance by calling the toll-free registration number at 1-800-462-9029. Individuals with hearing or speech impairments should call 1-800-462-7585. Disaster assistance specialists are staffing the phones from 7 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. "It's best to call the registration number early in the morning or late at night," said Federal Coordinating Officer Pete Martinasco.
Housing grants may be awarded for one of three purposes:
- To cover the cost of alternate housing for homeowners or renters whose dwelling is unlivable due to Tropical Storm Floyd.
- To fund essential emergency repairs that make a homeowner's disaster-damaged residence livable.
- Or, to avoid foreclosure or eviction for those who have lost employment as a direct result of the disaster.
Here are some additional policies regarding temporary disaster housing assistance from FEMA.
- Eligible homeowners can receive initial rental assistance for up to three months.
- Renters can receive initial rental assistance for one month.
- Homeowners and renters may receive additional rental funds on a case-by-case basis.
- Mortgage and rental assistance may be available in cases where the disaster has caused extreme economic hardship.
Grants for limited home repairs may be available to homeowners to make a residence livable until more extensive repairs can be made. Grants are not intended to restore the damaged residence to its pre-disaster condition; they are for emergency work only and include essential home repairs to:
- Electrical systems
- Mechanical systems
- General carpentry
"Federal and state staff are working diligently to ensure that homeowners and renters receive disaster assistance as quickly as possible so that they can begin the recovery process," said Martinasco. In the case of long-term home repairs, a homeowner will receive an application package for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Money for overall restoration also may be available through other government or volunteer agency programs.
Homeowners should contact county officials regarding any regulations or permits that may apply before any major repairs are made.