Families Impacted By Sandy Still Struggling to Recover
NJ can rebuild using Katrina lessons, expert tells community leaders


Speaking today at the Trenton Downtown Marriott to more than 100 community developers and others involved in rebuilding after Sandy, a New Orleans community development leader and a Jersey Shore teenager offered their perspectives on the challenges New Jersey residents face during disaster recovery.      

Dayna Hartley told the crowd about losing her family home of 20 years after Superstorm Sandy. The 17 year old high school senior, originally from Ventnor, now lives in a two bedroom apartment with her parents and two siblings. Sandy added insult to injury, as the Hartley family was already struggling to keep their home from being foreclosed on before the storm hit. She said the family is still in limbo because the foreclosure action is making it difficult for them to get the help they need.  The Hartleys were one of several families profiled in “Faces of Sandy,” co-released by the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey and Fair Share Housing Center at the Network’s Semi-Annual Membership Meeting today.  

"Since Sandy, community leaders and nonprofits have been working together to help Sandy survivors get back on their feet and to rebuild our devastated communities so that they are more diverse and more sustainable for the future," said Staci Berger, executive director of the Network. "Everyone in New Jersey deserves the opportunity to live in a great community in a home they can afford.  We will rebuild better and stronger than we were before."

James H. Perry, executive director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC), told participants about the parallels between the reconstruction faced by New Orleans and New Jersey. Perry led the GNOFHAC through two of America’s most devastating natural disasters, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Mr. Perry offered lessons learned from rebuilding after both hurricanes, so that community developers and service providers doing the same work in New Jersey could efficiently maximize available resources. Under his leadership, GNOFHAC favorably settled a historic class action lawsuit resulting in compensation of more than $500 million for Katrina victims.

"United by the devastation wrought by two of America's most destructive disasters, the people of New Jersey and New Orleans are irrepressible and resilient," said Perry. "If there is any benefit from the loss of community, property and life in New Orleans, it is that Katrina lessons learned can be conveyed to our New Jersey neighbors so that your recovery may be faster, more efficient and more equitable."
An Enterprise Community Partners report showing that 43 percent of those impacted by Sandy were renters and of that number, 67 percent made less than $30,000 a year, has sparked concern over the disproportion of resources available to low-income renters. Fair Share Housing Center sought out low-income renters in the nine counties hardest hit by Sandy.
"This report provides riveting stories of the immense hardships low-income families displaced by Sandy have experienced," said Fair Share Staff Attorney Andrew Todd F. Kunka. "From their testimonials, we see much more needs to be done to ensure that all families affected by Sandy have an equal chance to recover and rebuild."

The Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey is the statewide association of more than 200 housing and community development corporations, individuals and other organizations that support the creation of homes and economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income New Jerseyans.  For more information, visit the Network's website at www.hcdnnj.org.

For more information: Nina Arce
Housing & Community Development Network of NJ
(609) 393-3752 x12
[email protected]
Twitter site:  twitter.com/hcdnnj
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