Habitat for Humanity Receives $40,000 for Sandy Restoration Applicants

Southern Ocean County Chapter
Mar 27, 2014

Habitat for Humanity of Southern Ocean County has been awarded $40,000 to fund critical home repairs for low- and moderate-income families impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The funding is part of a larger grant between Habitat for Humanity International and Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund. In addition to currently planned projects, the 18-month grant will subsidize at least two additional repairs.

“After Hurricane Sandy we had to build our Critical Home Repair program from scratch, and it has been a challenge,” stated John Steele, president of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter. “Things have moved slower than we would have liked, but we are excited and humbled by the opportunity this grant presents to help rebuild our community.”

The chapter’s Critical Home Repair program addresses the essential needs of present homeowners to preserve and ensure safe, decent and affordable housing. The needed repairs may be inside or outside and should focus on function rather than cosmetics. Partner families obtain a no-interest loan from the local organization to cover the fee for repairs, and the repayment is used to finance further construction projects. In addition to the loan, partner families are required to contribute “sweat-equity” labor toward the project by working on the construction site, or in the ReStore – a nonprofit home improvement store and donation center – and in other tasks.

Because of the widespread damage caused by Sandy, Habitat for Humanity has expanded eligibility for its services. Homeowners who make up to 100 percent of the average median income in Ocean County may apply. Eligibility was previously limited to low-income families that make no more than 80 percent of the average median income.

Although HFHSOC is required to use the grant toward a minimum of two projects, one specific home repair project should not exceed $20,000. Most program applicants have not required such extensive work, so the funding should help support a number of local residents in need, explained Greg Muszynski, director of operations of HFHSOC.

“We are going to do our best to stretch this money as far as it will go, and the money itself goes right back into the program to fund more projects,” he said.

Following Sandy, a number of organizations and businesses provided initial funding for the Critical Home Repair Program, including Flying Fish Brewing Company, the Dutchman’s Brauhaus and the CLE Shop.

— Kelley Anne Essinger

kelleyanne@thesandpaper.net

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