Monday, March 25, 2013

Tent City on AOL's home page

AOL's homepage had a video about Lakewood's Tent City.  Click here

Citizens Impacted by Sandy Encouraged to Register

TRENTON, N.J. — Hurricane Sandy survivors who had storm-related damages in New Jersey have until April 1 to register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

April 1 is also the deadline to return applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration for low-interest disaster loans, which is the primary source of federal funds for long-term rebuilding.

Survivors can apply for an SBA disaster home or business loans by filling out an online application at

Survivors who applied for federal disaster assistance are urged to stay in touch with FEMA and SBA. Applicants should notify FEMA and SBA of changes to their mailing addresses, phone numbers or email addresses.

Survivors can register online and check on the status of their applications at, via smartphone or tablet at They also can call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 800-621-3362. Recovery assistants remain available daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

There are nine disaster recovery centers open in Atlantic, Cape May, Hudson, Monmouth and Ocean counties. FEMA staff is available at the centers to provide clarification to letters, assist survivors with finding a temporary home if their primary residence was damaged or destroyed, check on the status of applications for assistance or refer survivors to other agencies that may provide additional help. Survivors can locate their nearest center by going to

Survivors can ask questions about their SBA disaster home or business loan applications by calling 800-659-2955 or TTY 800-877-8339 or emailing

Additional resources are available online at and

From the Foundation Center: Why housing is everyone’s issue

Guest post from Gretchen Greiner-Lott, Vice President, Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

Why should you care about housing? Well, during last week’s snow event, I had some time to think about that a bit. Although we were all stuck at home together, my family and I still had light, heat, and shelter from the elements, as well as access to stores. But some people I know were not that lucky. It made me think about all the things that many of us take for granted that are essential to a strong, healthy, and connected community.

Because I have lived in my neighborhood for some years, I know my neighbors. I know who is sick or elderly and might need some help during the snow. I also know who might be able to assist me, if the need should arise. For those folks in our region whose housing situation is different – they move from place to place in search of a more affordable housing situation or the affordable situation they find lands them in a not so safe neighborhood – their community experiences are very different. They are not connected or supported.

“What does this have to do with me?” you might ask.


For the remainder of the essay from the Foundation Center, click here.

Tent City hearings

Tent City article about the #homeless camp in Lakewood, NJ in Asbury Park Press today. Destiny's Bridge #documentry

Photo with 'Destiny's Bridge' dir. Jack Ballo on fri at Ocean Cty.Court House as Tent City fights for dignity & homes.

NJ DCA Rental Fair Saturday April 6


The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs invites individuals and families displaced by Superstorm Sandy to attend this Rental Fair.

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with prospective landlords and realtors on-site to discuss available housing, review listings, and discuss permanent housing options.

Learn about Special Admissions for Section 8 Vouchers available for those who qualify.

Registration to attend is not required, but strongly recommended.
Please e-mail at
Or call 609 633-6606

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available upon request.  Include a description of the accommodation you will need and tell us how to contact you if we need more information.  Make your request as early as possible.  Last minute requests will be accepted, but may be impossible to fill.  Call 609 633-6606 or send an e-mail to




·         The RT-70 exit, EXIT 88, toward Brick Twp / Lakehurst / Lakewood.
·         Keep left to take the ramp toward Brick.MapHide Map If you are on RT-70 and reach Airport Rd you've gone about 0.4 miles too far
·         Turn left onto RT-70.
·         Turn right onto Shorrock St.MapHide Map
o   If you reach Duquesne Blvd you've gone about 0.6 miles too far
·         Shorrock St becomes Beaverson Blvd
·         Turn right.MapHide Map
o   Past Regent Ct. Dunkin Donuts is on the left
·         Turn slight right onto Brick Blvd.
·         SUNOCO is on the corner
·         Brick Blvd becomes Hooper Ave
·         Make a U-turn onto Hooper Ave.MapHide Map
o   If you reach Beatrice Ave you've gone about 0.1 miles too far

1519 HOOPER AVE is on the right…iMapHide Mapf you reach Brokaw Blvd you've gone a little too far.


VISIT: for information on transportation options to/from Toms River.

Note: NJ Transit Bus #67 stops at Hooper Ave and Brokaw Blvd which is a .19 mile walk to the school.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Out of Reach 2013

According to Out of Reach 2013, the Housing Wage for New Jersey is $24.84 making it the area the fourth most expensive in the nation. The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a family must earn – working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – to be able to afford the rent and utilities for a safe and modest home in the private housing market.

The report, Out of Reach 2013, is a national study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, D.C.-based housing policy organization. The report provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non metropolitan area, and county in the country.

The mean wage for a New Jersey renter is $16.77 an hour, below the housing wage for a modest two-bedroom. At the mean wage, an individual would have to work 59 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent (FMR).  At minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, a New Jersey worker would have to work 137 hours a week or 3.4 full jobs a week to afford a two-bedroom at FMR.

The full data set featuring a ranking of New Jersey's most to least expensive states can be found here.  This data set also includes a top ten ranking of least affordable states as well as a listing of occupations and their wages.  Click here to view a fact sheet of New Jersey's data and comparison chart hereNational data available at

Click here to read a news release on Out of Reach 2013.

Archived Out of Reach Data:
2008          2009          2010          2011          2012

Asbury Park Press: Sandy aid relief shorting renters

Mar 14, 2013

The devil is still in the details. While Governor Chris Christie announced Tuesday that the cavalry had arrived - with more than $800 million in federal funds to help homeowners and $500 million for businesses are included in New Jersey’s plan for its federal superstorm Sandy money, details about applying for that aid will not be revealed for another few weeks. And the few details that have been released raise troubling questions about whether the most vulnerable and the hardest hit, chiefly low-and moderate income renters, will receive a fair share of it.

The announcement triggers a seven-day public comment period. If the plan is approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than 20,000 homeowners, 5,000 renters and 10,000 businesses could get grants to help close the gap in the cost of repairing or rebuilding .Once that ends, the plan will be submitted to the Obama administration for approval, after which the specifics will be put in place.

That is a big if.

HUD could amend the plan and it should. As Kevin Walsh, associate director of the New Jersey-based Fair Share Housing Center said, 80 percent of the lowest income people impacted by Sandy are renters. Yet only 20 percent of the people covered by the State's proposed plan are renters, Associate Director Kevin D. Walsh said.

"Fewer than one out of every twenty renters who registered with FEMA would be helped through the state's plan," Walsh added.

On the surface, the announcement must seem like balm to those who sustained some of $3.83 billion in damage to homes and properties caused by Sandy. The programs for homeowners include: $600 million to provide eligible homeowners up to $150,000 to rebuild, repair and elevate damaged primary residences and $25 million to provide up to $50,000 to low- and moderate-income households to purchase a home.

Yet contrast that with the state’s proposal to spend $225 million to expand the stock of rental housing, including zero- and low-interest loans of up to $120,000 per unit for developers and public housing authorities to develop new rentals and zero-interest loans of up to $50,000 per unit to help repair small rental properties damaged by the storm. Another $40 million would be paid to rental property owners as incentives for agreeing to lease to low- and moderate-income households.

But the rental market in New Jersey has always been tough, even before Sandy. The crunch is even greater now as displaced homeowners scramble to put a roof over their heads. Other details the state’s residents are still waiting for include how people apply for these programs, the income eligibility requirements, and when and how the final two rounds of the federal monies for relief and rebuilding will arrive from Washington.

Gov. Christie said this week that these programs “ have been carefully, but quickly designed to fill the unmet needs faced by our residents.” Not carefully enough, though. HUD should insist on a more equitable distribution of funds to assist the renters in our state.

Monmouth County gets 9x's more homeless funding than Ocean County

Homelessness is homelessness, whether you are in Monmouth County or Ocean County.  But how does one explain a 90% difference in grants between the two?  

The competitive grant called Continuum of Care under the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development listed Lakewood and Ocean County as receiving $234,008 for programs to help the homeless while Monmouth County received $2.6 million for its programs.

“The difference between neighboring counties is obscene,” Lakewood Township Committeeman Raymond G. Coles said. “All anyone has to do is pick up a newspaper or drive down Cedar Bridge Avenue to see that we have a huge homeless problem in Lakewood.”

Homeless help in Ocean County is 1/10 of Monmouth County

Grants for homeless in Ocean County questioned; Monmouth gets more

WOBM: Lakewood Tent City Dwellers Can Stay For Now, Says Judge

Homeless denizens of Lakewood’s Tent City get a reprieve from eviction by an Ocean County Superior Court judge.
Click here  to read more.

Formerly homeless, man now determined to stay off the street

CHAMPAIGN — Doug Gritmacher holds up a paycheck in his living room with pride.
He'd just gotten it that day, the first check he's earned in four years, he says.
But it was a bittersweet day for him.

To read more go here.

Report on Court Hearing: Possible Break-Through With Lakewood

For years, our Coalition has stood side by side with the homeless men and women forced to live in the woods of Lakewood’s Tent City.  Together, we have stood up for some basic principles.  For example, we believe that the homeless have a right to survive on public land until the government gives them a better place to go -- that is, the safe indoor housing that everyone deserves.  Now, we are on the verge of a break-through.

Late Friday, after years of trying -- unsuccessfully -- to eject the homeless, Lakewood finally agreed with what our Coalition has been saying all along.  Under a settlement-in-principle announced by the Court, Lakewood would be barred from ejecting any of Tent City’s current residents unless and until those residents are given housing -- not just a motel room for a night or two, but safe and adequate housing for at least a full year.  Below is a link to one of the many news reports about this major development:

As a first step, the parties would cooperate in a census of Tent City’s residents -- approximately 100 men and women by some estimates -- as well as a screening of the residents for possible governmental benefits.   At the same time, the litigation against Ocean County and its Board of Social Services (the “County”) will continue -- that is, at least until the County stops turning away large numbers of homeless men, women and children, and finally makes emergency shelter available in the County.   In addition, the County continues to face a claim for more than $2 million in damages alleged by the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, to which the County for years has “exported” large numbers of its homeless without fair reimbursement.

Much work remains to be done, including finalization of the settlement-in-principle with Lakewood.  However, thanks to you and the Coalition, we are making tremendous progress.  The residents of Tent City are safe from ejectment -- and, finally, moving closer to the housing that this case has always been about.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

OC Freeholders: Demands on social services increase

Programs Help Those Affected by Ailing Economy

TOMS RIVER – Families and individuals living in Ocean County that have been negatively affected by an ailing economy continue to find help at the Ocean County Board of Social Services.

"Over the last five years we have seen increases of more than 100 and 200 percent for some of our social service programs," said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Board of Social Services. "Many of our citizens in Ocean County have been affected by the downturn in the economy. These programs and services provide a lifeline as they work toward regaining employment and keeping a roof over their head."

Little noted that since 2007, the number of people accessing services and programs provided by the Board of Social Services have increased in some cases more than 200 percent.

He said applications for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families were up 94 percent while General Assistance was up 103 percent and requests for food stamps increased by almost 263 percent from 2007 with 60,297 people receiving the help. As of January 2013, 2,554 people were accessing General Assistance, and 3,979 are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Little noted that the increases seen over the last five years have been related to negative changes in the economy with many residents losing jobs and as a result losing income.

He added there is a concern that with federal assistance expected to come to an end following Superstorm Sandy that there may be another increase in the number of people seeking assistance from the Ocean County Board of Social Services.

"Now, in particular, the programs and services administered by the Board are increasingly seen as a financial lifeline for many families who are affected by unemployment and loss of income," Little said. "It's important our residents – whether affected by the storm or the economy - know they have a place to turn to during these difficult times."

The Board of Social Services administers more than 60 programs to assist needy and under-privileged families and individuals living in Ocean County. In 2012, the Board of Social Services saw 121,481 people.

"Funding for these programs comes from federal, state and county sources," he said.

Little said more than $600 million in state and federal funds flow through the Board of Social Services for programs and services. In addition, Ocean County earmarked $20 million for assistance programs.

He added that about 3,900 persons, on any given night, are receiving help from social services including temporary rental assistance, temporary shelter, back rent/mortgage assistance and other rental assistance programs.

Little noted that since 2007, households being provided homeless services increased by more than 105 percent with 882 people receiving help in 2007 while 1,842 accessed the services in 2012.

"We have seen a spike in the number of people that have reached out to the after hours special response provided by social services," Little said. "The number increased from 1,335 in 2009 to 1884 last year. We make every effort to accommodate everyone who needs help no matter what the time - day or night."

Little commended the staff at the Board of Social Services for making every effort to help those who need assistance.

"The staff at the Board of Social Services is working hard to provide the support and help needed during these difficult times," Little said. "The Board of Freeholders commends the Social Service staff for the thorough job it is doing."

Hurricane Sandy recovery news

See what the local press is saying about the Hurricane Sandy recovery:

33K more homes in #NJ added to new flood zone

Watchdog: Brick's tax liens jump to $1.4M

Toms River officials are taking steps toward securing a $5 million FEMA Community Disaster loan for damages...

HUD funding - New Jersey $24,143,919- Lakewood- $234,008- only Ocean County town to apply and receive money for homeless initiatives

Jen A. Miller's new post: Stop blaming Sandy victims

College students forgo spring break for #Sandy cleanup

Lakewood Officials and Tent City Residents to Meet with Judge Friday

FEMA hotel program sees numbers

Thank you Texas!! A group of hearty Texans flew in last night to help clean-up the marshes in Brick, across from...

Shore residents duel with state over FEMA's new house elevation requirements

N.J. forms group, launches website to monitor Hurricane Sandy

Impacted by Sandy? Free Summer Camp opportunities at Ocean County

#NumberOfTheDay: How many NJ residents who filed damage claims with FEMA after Superstorm Sandy make less than 30k? 

The Aging of the Homeless

NPR reports: the homeless are getting older and they are aging faster:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Superior Court hearing for Lakewood's Tent City is Friday

The homeless court case will be held 1:30 p.m. in NJ Superior Court, 100 Hooper Avenue, Courtroom 6. People are encouraged to attend and show their support for the residents of Tent City.