New Jersey homeowners, renters and communities struggling from the calamitous impacts of Hurricane Ida may be able to apply to a handful of new programs in March, opens in a new windowmore than 16 months after the devastation, the Department of Community Affairs announced Tuesday.
This particular pot of money from Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds opens in a new windowrequires congressional action and layers of approval each time a disaster strikesopens PDF file , meaning storm survivors are often waiting years before they receive the help they need. Grassroots groups have called for making it a permanent program that disburses funds immediately.
But New Jersey cleared one of its final hurdles to use $228 million in federal funding when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the state’s proposed spending plan that was submitted last September.
New Jersey expects to launch a handful of programs this March:
- The Homeowner Assistance and Recovery Program ($68.9 million) will provide grants up to $300,000 to eligible homeowners to help restore homes damaged by Ida, such as elevating their homes, rebuilding or improving drainage systems or installing more efficient utility equipment.
- The Small Rental Repair Program ($20 million) offers forgivable loans without interest to owners of rental properties with seven units or fewer requiring fixes after Ida. Properties will be required to charge “affordable” rents for an unspecified period of time.
- The Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program ($15 million) will provide help with rent for low-income families affected by Ida, prioritizing families earning less than 30% of the county median income.
- Housing Counseling and Legal Services ($3 million) will support nonprofits and legal organizations that provide foreclosure prevention services, relocation help, debt management, help with applying to other Ida programs and legal advice.
Community Block Grants will also cover infrastructure improvements and plans to lessen the impacts of future funding, launching other programs in the coming months, including $54 million that local governments hit by Ida can use to pay for infrastructure projects to better respond to future natural hazards.
New Jersey plans to use $16 million for the Blue Acres Program, a voluntary buyout program that removes residential homes in flood plains to create open space, wetlands or parks. Blue Acres offers homeowners the fair market value of the home, and may also offer extra funds to help families afford to move to a lower-risk area.
Another $30 million will help pay to build affordable housing in areas with low flood risk that are near neighborhoods participating in the Blue Acres program, to help families stay in their communities. The state also plans to launch a tool that assesses housing stock in at-risk areas to make development and flood plain decisions.
The Garden State secured an additional $149.2 million in recovery funds from the federal government. The Department of Community Affairs will draft a plan and offer a period for the public to respond later this year.
On top of these upcoming programs, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already awarded Ida storm survivors more than $254 million in housing and other assistance in New Jersey.
To receive updates about the programs, visit opens in a new windownj.gov/dca/ddrm/home/idasurvey.shtml.