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May 24, 2013

Re:      Governor Announces Launch of “ReNew Jersey Stronger”
Housing Assistance Program $780 Million Available for Homeowners Affected by Superstorm Sandy

Dear Mayor:

Today in Trenton, Governor Christie and Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Constable announced the start of the “reNew Jersey Stronger” housing assistance initiative, which is designed to assist homeowners impacted by Superstorm Sandy. Beginning today, eligible homeowners can apply for grant assistance at www.renewjerseystronger.org or by calling 1-855-SANDYHM (1-855-726-3946).

The grants are designed to encourage homeowners to resettle in their primary residences and help them reconstruct, rehabilitate, elevate and mitigate their homes. Today's launch of the housing assistance programs comes less than a month after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved New Jersey's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Action Plan, which details how the State will use $1,829,520,000 in federal funding to help homeowners, renters, businesses and communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy. The reNew Jersey Stronger housing assistance initiative is funded with $780 million of the allocation.

Under the reNew Jersey Stronger housing initiative, homeowners whose primary residences were damaged by the storm in the nine most-impacted counties (Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Union) may apply for two grant programs. Vacation homes, second homes and recreational vehicles or trailers are not eligible for the programs based on federal restrictions on the use of the funds.

The $600 million Homeowner Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program will provide eligible homeowners up to $150,000 to aid with the reconstruction, rehabilitation, elevation and mitigation of damaged primary homes. The program is intended to fill the gap between the costs needed to repair the home and other sources of funds the homeowner has received to repair their home. The program will also help homeowners with the construction process by developing repair specifications, identifying qualified builders to do the construction work, and ensuring the quality of the work completed. Seventy percent of the funds will be reserved for low-to-moderate-income households in accordance with federal requirements.

All applicants for RREM Program funding must have registered for assistance with FEMA and must have a household adjusted gross annual income of less than $250,000. Priority will be given to homes that are deemed "substantially damaged" (damages exceed 50% of a home's assessed value) as a result of Sandy.

The $180 million Homeowner Resettlement Program is designed to encourage Sandy damaged home owners to remain in the nine counties that were most seriously affected by the storm. This program will provide $10,000 grants to eligible homeowners to encourage them to resettle in their existing home or resettle in the same county. This would help to restore home values and stabilize many devastated communities. Homeowners must agree to remain in the county of their damaged residence for three consecutive years following the grant award. Sixty percent of the funds will be reserved for low-to-moderate-income households in accordance with federal requirements.

All applicants under the Resettlement Program must have registered for assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and must have sustained at least $8,000 in damages or more than one foot of flooding on the first floor as a result of Sandy.

In addition to filing application on-line or by phone, by June 8 the State will have opened Sandy Housing Assistance Centers in each of the nine counties for in person applications.  Housing counselors will be available both at the centers and over the phone to help applicants navigate the entire process.

Please note: Funding is limited. State officials estimate that, absent an additional allocation from HUD, up to 6,000 households will receive a RREM grant and up to 18,000 households will receive a Resettlement grant. The initial application period will run from May 24, 2013 to June 30, 2013. All completed RREM and Resettlement applications received by June 30 will then be in the first group to be processed. Once the application period closes, selection will prioritize those homeowners with the most damage (i.e., substantial, severe and major), whose homes are in the most impacted counties (i.e., Atlantic, Monmouth and Ocean), and who are of low- to moderate-income.

Applications will continue to be accepted after June 30, 2013, but these applicants will be processed only after all the most impacted homeowners from the first group have been served.

Applicants and local officials interested in more information on the reNew Jersey Stronger housing assistance initiative, including details about the application process, determination of eligibility, and award calculation, should visit www.renewjerseystronger.org or call the hotline number 1-855-SANDYHM (1-855-726-3946). Locations and directions to the Sandy Housing Assistance Centers that are opening June 8 will be posted at www.renewjerseystronger.org as the information becomes available.

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

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