As a Hurricane Ida survivor, I was shocked to learn that fewer than 200 displaced Ida survivors in New Jersey are receiving continued rental assistance (up to 18 months) through FEMA. The opens in a new windowGothamist website estimated that more than 19,500 households in New York and New Jersey were potentially eligible, since they received short-term aid.
The majority of us weren’t even offered the chance to apply for the longer-term aid. opens in a new windowFlooding and tornadoes associated with Ida hit New Jersey around Sept. 2, 2021.
However, a decade ago, over 10,000 Superstorm Sandy survivors received 18 months of FEMA rental assistance. Ida families deserve the same chance. People in my community are opens in a new window stuck paying rent on top of a mortgage. Others are at risk of losing our homes to foreclosure. Some are now homeless after their homes were destroyed and rental costs became unaffordable.
FEMA needs to do the right thing and make it possible for our communities to access continued rental assistance, including back pay for the long 14 months we went without it.
Sandy and Ida members of the New Jersey Organizing Project standing together first learned that so few Ida families were getting this crucial aid. This does leave me to ask: Why did nobody else notice this, and when will FEMA reopen these cases so we can keep a roof over our families’ heads?
FEMA must ensure that Ida survivors who need rental assistance are able to access it — and soon.