Homeowners Share Frustrating Sandy Experience with Legislative Panel
Network testifies before joint legislative committee on recovery progress


The Senate Environment and Energy Committee with the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee  hosted a joint hearing in Atlantic City today on the progress of Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. After testifying before the committees, Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey Executive Director Staci Berger issued the following statement:

"Thousands of families are still displaced from their homes, and many former homeowners now have to rent. This puts a strain on an already competitive rental market in this region which simply does not have an adequate supply of affordable rentals. Initially, Governor Christie requested that only 25 percent of the federal disaster relief funds be used to address rental housing needs but thankfully, the federal government required the state to allocate more for renters.  We're seeing that it's nowhere near enough though.

"Most frustrating however, is the fact that we have not seen a single billboard or television ad that tells people how they can be Stronger than the Storm. No phone numbers advertise or directions to 211 for information. For residents living with the trauma and stress caused by Sandy, this has been most frustrating. Especially the lack of communication and direction of where exactly to get help."

Joining the Network in testifying at the hearing were Lee Ann Newland and Simone Dannecker, a clients of Network member, the Affordable Housing Alliance. Newland, a Sandy displaced Neptune Township resident, shared the following:

"Throughout the past ten months, while working full time as teachers my husband and I have spent the better part of our free time on the phone, writing letters, filing applications, filing appeals and generally being frustrated with all of the above. We followed the direction of the people who were “in charge” of the many agencies and institutions we were introduced to, and directed towards in an attempt to clean up and return to our home. Our files, which include one copy of each application, appeal, letter, response, follow up, etc weighs over ten pounds.

"The recent TV ad campaign depicting life at the shore as back to normal is highly disturbing. Life is not normal, and every night there are new stories on the news of the forgotten residents and townships that dot the NJ coastline. Our home remains uninhabitable, and no further help is on the horizon. We are exhausted  and frustrated and feel let down, mostly by our flood insurer as well as the false hope provided by the agencies working for the State of New Jersey.
"I can only hope that sharing our story can turn the spotlight from the beaches and boardwalks of New Jersey to the people who are being ignored only a few blocks west of the Atlantic."

Union Beach resident Dannecker added:

"The lower level of my home was completely wiped out by Sandy, a home the bank wants to foreclose on. We had drained our entire savings just to make our home habitable in the middle of a community plagued by the odor of mold infested homes. Do I fight for a home whose value has plummeted due to the storm devastated community it resides in or do I cut my losses and walk away?"

The Housing and Community Development Network supports New Jersey’s community development sector, collaborating with more than 250 members including community development corporations and other organizations to create affordable homes, expand economic opportunities, and build strong communities. For more information on the Network, visit 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
Facebook site:  facebook.com/hcdnnj