BRICK TOWNSHIP - Shore homeowners who need help paying for elevating their house now have another program for which they can apply.
Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday a new program that will reimburse as much as $30,000 of the cost for elevating houses in flood zones that were affected by Hurricane Sandy. The program, paid for with $100 million of Federal Emergency Management Agency hazard mitigation grant money, will help about 2,700 homeowners, Christie said at a news conference in Brick Township.
"There are many things we learned in the aftermath of Sandy, and one of them is that home elevation significantly reduces the risk of property damage," Christie said. "This is an important step to making us stronger than the storm. We know another storm will come in the future."
Unlike the grant program for as much as $150,000 to rebuild and elevate storm-damaged houses, applicants will not face income restrictions nor did they need to register with FEMA for aid following the storm, Christie said. Homeowners that already have completed or recently started the work to elevate their house are not eligible due to federal restrictions, Christie said.
Houses must be in 100-year flood plains and be in the nine counties that suffered the most damage from Sandy, including Cape May, Atlantic and Ocean counties. Homeowners in Cumberland County are not eligible.
Homeowners can apply for multiple programs, but if accepted to more than one grant program run through the state, they can only choose one, Christie said. Homeowners seeking buyouts are not eligible for the grants.
The state will calculate the award based on how much the work will cost as well as any other funding, such as insurance payouts, FEMA assistance and non-profit programs, a homeowner already has received or been promised. Homeowners will be prioritized based on how high their house needs to be elevated and whether a house was damaged during the storm. If more applications come in than there is funding for, the state will institute a lottery system similar to that put in place for the other grant programs.
To apply for the program, call 855-726-3946, go to renewjerseystronger.org or visit one of nine housing recovery centers throughout the state, including in Egg Harbor Township and Lower Township. Applications will be accepted until September 15.
Monday's announcement is the second program paid for, at least in part, with hazard mitigation money. In May, the Christie Administration announced it would spend $300 million to buy out up to 1,200 flood-prone houses, with 75 percent of that cost coming from hazard mitigation grants.
Christie said Monday the reason the state has focused much of its buy-out efforts in Middlesex County and not coastal counties including Atlantic, Ocean or Cape May, is because homeowners along the shore have not shown much interest during the initial outreach efforts.
"We haven't found a lot of interest in other places," Christie said. "People (in the four coastal counties) want to repair and stay and that's a real contrast to Middlesex, in part, where there is a real desire (to leave flood-prone areas.)"
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