Thursday, May 16, 2013

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity to build new affordable house

Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity is getting ready to build their 15th affordable house, therefore they are having their 3 Family Selection Orientations for selection of a new partner family.  The applicants MUST attend one orientation to obtain the application for submission.

The next two orientations are:
Sunday May 19th 2 pm @ the Lakewood Library 301 Lexington Avenue
Monday May 20th 7 pm @ the Toms River Library 101 Washington Street
Contact Norther Ocean Habitat for Humanity for more information:

Editorial: On TASK for 30 years - Trenton Area Soup Kitchen provides hope for homeless

From the Times of Trenton:

For more than 30 years, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen has offered sustenance with a side of hope to the homeless, the working poor and all those temporarily down on their luck. Twice a day, TASK offers meals to anyone who is hungry, no questions asked.

To read more click here.

Southern Service Center Home to Nutrition Site

A press release from the Ocean County Freeholders:


STAFFORD TOWNSHIP – Simply put, nutrition support is a key ingredient to good health for older adults.

And, with that in mind, the first attendees to enjoy a meal while socializing with old friends and making new ones made their way into Ocean County's new senior nutrition site at the Ocean County Southern Service Center, here.

"The opening of this nutrition site has been in the works for quite a while," said Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of Senior Services. "And while a superstorm may have delayed our efforts, it didn't stop us and here we are today."

Freeholder Vicari joined with Community Services Inc. representatives, local officials and seniors in cutting the ceremonial red ribbon marking the grand opening of the new site. The site opened on the first day, May 1, of Older Americans Month.

"A survey of current congregate nutrition site participants shows that 73 percent are at moderate to high nutritional risk and 93 percent of home delivered meal clients are at moderate to high nutritional risk," Vicari said. "In Ocean County we want to decrease those percentages and insure our seniors are getting a healthy meal.

"In the first three months of this year, 40,980 home delivered meals have been distributed to seniors while 11,172 meals were served at our nutrition sites," he said.

Seniors in the county's congregate nutrition program from Lacey Township south to Little Egg Harbor will be accessing the new nutrition site

"This site is a great location with plenty of on-site parking," Vicari said. "Having easy access to this program is very important for the well-being of our older citizens."

He noted that transportation for some seniors may be available through Community Services Inc., Long Beach Island Senior Services and Stafford Dial-A-Ride.

Ocean County completed the renovation of the kitchen at the Southern Service Center just weeks before the grand opening, providing a new location for the preparation of home delivered meals to the southern part of the County.

"There are about 300 meals now prepared daily at this site and in the months ahead we expect that number to double," Vicari said.

When the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders officially opened the doors of the Ocean County Southern Service Center in 2011, the plan was to use the building to help southern Ocean County residents access county services.

"Making county services accessible is a priority for this Board," said Freeholder Director John P. Kelly. "This was yet another step we took to meet that goal."

Little did the Board know that the center would become a focal point in the county's efforts to assist residents in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy prior to being able to open the nutrition site.

"During the days after the storm, the National Guard was housed at the facility. In addition, because St. Francis Center on Long Beach Island was heavily damaged by the storm, the center relocated its food pantry, some counseling services and the home delivered meal program to the Southern Service Center. The building also played an integral role in the November 2012 Presidential Election and has been home to the Federal Emergency Management Administration which used part of the facility as a regional Disaster Recovery Center," said Kelly, Director of Law and Public Safety. "All the while we are continuing to offer county services from this site."

Ocean County opened the Ocean County Southern Service Center, located at the corner of Routes 9 and 72 in Manahawkin, in May 2011.

"Originally, the facility was opened to provide residents of the southern portion of the county with the opportunity to access some local senior services programs, the services of the Ocean County Clerk and the Ocean County Surrogate," Kelly said. "Those services quickly expanded to include Veterans Services.

"The site continues to house those county services and now we welcome this nutrition site," Kelly said.

Ocean County had purchased the Route 9 facility, which had been the former St. Mary Parish Center, with an eye toward using the property for a new Stafford Township branch of the Ocean County Library.

However, the downturn in the economy resulted in those plans being delayed for the time being.

The Southern Service Center also houses some senior social/support services such as a satellite location for the Long Beach Island Senior Services and Outreach, which provides information and assistance with an array of benefits and entitlements for older adults. Additionally Visiting Home Care offers Adult Social Day Care: "A Friend's House."

"We are very pleased with the work that goes on at this facility," Vicari said. "From our seniors to our veterans to our citizens that need help with Surrogate Services or the services of the County Clerk, this facility allows easy accessibility to programs and services in a growing area."

Vicari noted that socialization, recreation, educational programs and health screenings will be offered at the nutrition site.

"We want to make sure we are meeting the needs of our seniors," Vicari said. "I believe we truly are."

Ocean County Participates in CDBG Program Since 1984

Press release from the Ocean County Freeholders


TOMS RIVER – Ocean County expects to distribute about $940,000 in federal funds to municipalities and public agencies for housing rehabilitation and municipal and public service projects.

"Ocean County has been participating in the federal Community Development Block Grant Program since 1984," said Freeholder Gerry P. Little, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Planning Department, which administers the program. "Many great projects have resulted from the distribution of these funds."

Ocean County anticipates allocating $352,000 for 11 municipal projects such as handicap accessibility, street, sidewalk and curb improvements. In addition, about $180,000 will be allocated for 12 public service activities such as food distribution, counseling and day care centers, domestic violence and youth runaway centers, homeless assistance, visiting homecare services and senior services, while $226,000 will be appropriated for housing related programs.

"Because of anticipated federal funding cuts and changes in the census, we are anticipating that the 2013 appropriation will be about 10 percent less than 2012," Little said. "We are still waiting on the final numbers."

Little said the county anticipates $826,000 for HOME funding for fiscal year 2013.

"This money helps our residents with their housing needs," Little said. "The funds are used to repair existing homes or help families take the necessary steps into their first home."

For instance, Little said that under the First Time Homebuyers program 440 families have received down payment assistance for purchase of a home under the program for a total real estate value in Ocean County of $58 million.

Approximately 22 individuals/families will receive assistance with FY 2013 funding.

In addition, a total of 656 housing units have been rehabilitated under the CDBG Housing Rehabilitation Program since 1984. Approximately 22 units will be rehabilitated during FY 2013.

Little said the county also anticipates using about $665,000 for the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program which includes funds from 2013 and 2012.

"Additional funding was recommended to accommodate the increased rental demand as a result of Superstorm Sandy," Little said. "Waivers were requested and approved by HUD."

He said 653 families have been provided rent subsidies under the Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program to date.
The average rental subsidy provided in 2012 was $923 per month for a 24 month period.

"We anticipate assisting 65 families this year under this program," he said.

In addition, $200,000 will be provided for Superstorm Sandy Relief and Recovery. The money will be allocated to OCEAN, Inc.'s Community Partners Outreach and Relief Program for eligible residents of Ocean County affected by Superstorm Sandy.

"This money will be used for rental assistance, security deposits, relocation assistance, home repairs not covered by insurance and/or FEMA, plumbing and gas line penetration, replacement of insulation and other weatherization replacements, counseling, and food assistance," Little said. "With so many of our residents directly impacted by this storm, it is important to help our residents get back to their homes."

Municipalities that receive separate CDBG entitlements and the amounts that are anticipated are: Brick Township, $247,351, Toms River Township, $332,090, Lakewood Township, $785,743 and Jackson Township, $174,674. However, Jackson Township's funds will be included in the total County allocation since the County administers their program.

"Over the years, 549 municipal projects were completed under the CDBG program, 165 of which were public service projects," Little said.

Little noted that while some of the CDBG money is being used for Superstorm Sandy relief, this allocation is separate from the $1.8 billion that will be distributed by the state that will help in the recovery of the storm.

Freeholder Director John P. Kelly said the CDBG Steering Committee works diligently every year in reviewing funding requests.

"I want to thank the committees' chairwoman Patricia Moran and all the members who work so hard to make certain this funding continues to come to Ocean County and provides the money for many important projects," Kelly said.

New Jersey Renters Getting Short Shrift After Sandy?

Housing advocates address funding gap in post-hurricane aid for displaced tenants

New Jersey renters affected by Hurricane Sandy are faring far worse than their homeowner counterparts.

That’s the conclusion of a report released yesterday by the Fair Share Housing Center (FSHC), a public interest organization devoted to protecting the housing rights of the state’s poor.

Citing an already prohibitive vacancy rate and accusing Governor Chris Christie’s administration of “exclud(ing) many low-income renters from rebuilding” by allocating fewer federal dollars to renters than to homeowners, the organization warns that the market and the governor’s policies could force renters to permanently move out of their communities or even leave the state.

To read more click here.

Corporation for National and Community Service: Help End Hunger

No one should go hungry in the United States. Yet 50 million individuals experienced food insecurity at some point during 2009. This means that they ate less than they needed, skipped meals, or even went a whole day without eating.

But you can help.

The USDA and the Corporation for National and Community Service have joined together to provide service opportunities to help end hunger in our country.

For more information click here.

Editorial: N.J.'s COAH money grab is the latest raid on property taxpayers

From: The Times of Trenton

It’s a classic case of “Catch 22.”
As they wait for state approvals for committing affordable housing funds, municipal officials throughout New Jersey find themselves fending off state attempts to take that money — because it’s not being spent.
But now that the state has been caught with its hand in the proverbial cookie jar, the case will go before a state appeals court June 5 to determine if the New Jersey Council on Affordable Housing is justified in commandeering as much as $164 million from the towns.

To read the whole editorial, click here.

DCA To Host Rental Fair in Atlantic City for Sandy Victims

Finding safe, affordable housing remains and elusive quest for many Sandy victims, so the state is stepping in. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is hosting a second Rental Fair this Friday at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

To read more click here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tent City residents still need your help

I ran into Steve Brigham at the library in Toms River yesterday and learned that a mistake in a news story has led people to a wrong impression.
Following the news release of a settlement agreement between Lakewood and the residents in Tent City, Steve said a reporter wrote Tent City would be closing very soon. That is wrong, it will take a while to find appropriate housing for the 90 residents and people made the assumption that those residents no longer needed help.
Steve estimates it will take many months before residents will be relocated to adequate housing and so Tent City residents are still need.
Steve still provides food in communal meals for Tent City residents, but donations have almost completely dried up. That factored into his decision to sell his bus. He used the money to buy food.
"Our biggest need is for protein items like eggs, hotdogs and hamburgers," he said.
If you can help, he'd appreciate that.  And if dropping off those items is inconvenient, how about purchasing gift certificates from ShopRite or other local grocery store and dropping them off to Steve?