A federal policy shift announced earlier this week may mean landlords who already have repaired their Hurricane Sandy-damaged properties can be reimbursed with grant money.
The policy, which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released Tuesday, now allows property owners to be reimbursed through certain grant programs that are funded through the $60 billion disaster aid package approved by Congress in January.
Prior to the policy shift, which politicians say is the first of its kind, landlords, business owners and homeowners could not be reimbursed through the grant programs if the amount of the damage was worth more than 50 percent of the pre-storm value of the house. The reason, HUD said, was it required environmental reviews whenever the substantial damage threshold is reached.
Late last month, New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs announced its program for landlords to repair their storm-damaged properties, provided those landlords met stringent requirements. Among the requirements is the promise to rent the property as year-round housing for low- to moderate-income residents. The goal of the program is to increase the amount of affordable housing in the areas most affected by the storm, the state has said.
As of Tuesday, the DCA had received more than 250 applications representing more than 550 housing units, spokeswoman Lisa Ryan said. The state will review applications on a rolling basis, Ryan said. “Our intention is to start mailing (the first) notification letters in early August.”
The $70 million program will provide as much as $50,000 per unit to restore, reconstruct or even elevate houses or apartments. While the priority will be properties in the nine most-affected counties — including Cape May, Atlantic and Ocean — those throughout the state are eligible as long as they suffered damage in Sandy, according to program details published earlier this year.
Eligible properties must have 25 or fewer apartments, and the DCA will give preference to apartment buildings with seven or fewer units, buildings that need mold remediation, and housing for those with special needs. The owner of the building can be someone who owned the building before the storm, bought the building after Sandy or someone who wants to buy the building, provided they meet certain requirements.
However, the DCA released an advisory Thursday warning that the new federal policy will not allow the state to reimburse work that is done between the time the grant application is filed and the time an environmental review is complete.
To apply, call 1-855-726-3946 or visit www.renewjerseystronger.org.
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