Need help with your individual Sandy issues? Here’s how YOU can help YOU.
Does NJOP help people?
Yes. And no. The New Jersey Organizing Project actually isn’t a service organization. When we say “service organization,” picture like – Catholic Charities, Affordable Housing Alliance, Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group. A service organization is one with multiple staff whose goal is to assist individual families in navigating their particular circumstance. We’re fans of service organizations and love to collaborate. But that’s not who we are.
We’re a power building organization. Essentially this means that we don’t directly provide resources to folks or have multiple staff who help individuals with their circumstances. In fact, we have one staffer that works on Sandy recovery – Jody Stewart – who many of you know.
We help by organizing lots of folks who are facing the same problem to get broad solutions for our community – like rental assistance, the Sandy foreclosure bill, or extending ICC for three additional years.
If you’re coming to us thinking we can fix a problem with your individual case – you’re in the wrong place – we want to be up front about that. We know there have been many frustrating twists and turns as you try to recover and we don’t want to waste your time.
If you’re interested in working with other community members to fix problems together, and along that path possibly discover solutions to your individual case – you’re in the right place!
Here are some existing resources on our website for common questions and concerns we get from folks.
- Here’s our explainer about the Supplemental Fund.
- Here’s our explainer about the Sandy Foreclosure Bill.
- Here’s a summary of the Contractor Fraud law that doesn’t require a charging document.
- And here are tips from three members’ experiences on reducing or eliminating their clawback (scroll down to where it says ‘stories,’ and look for Julie, Stacey and Fran.
We learn a lot from each other.
The best place to talk with people having similar experiences and share strategies PLUS work on fixing our broken recovery system is our monthly Sandy campaign team call. Check our calendar here – click on the event to register.
And. There are 4 things we can do to connect you to people that *might* be able to assist as you advocate for yourself and your recovery.
Because we’ve learned a ton from the many struggles of our members – sometimes we might have an idea or resource that’s helpful. Here’s the thing – because we only have one staff person and this is not their main focus – we need you to help us by putting your story in writing, emailing us, and then following up. If you live with a disability or there is a language barrier that creates a challenge with writing – let us know and we will try to schedule a time for one of our community captains to interview you. It’s easiest to follow up with Jody via email or text. Again, because it’s not her job to work on individual cases – she’s usually in meetings or conversations with people and calls are harder to field.
And, if you’ve been in contact with us, shared your story and details, and we’ve taken action together and something has shifted – GREAT! This is a major cause for celebration! It means there was probably some human error or misunderstanding along the way that together we were able to identify and things shifted in your favor. For some of us, the brokenness of the system has been too deep and these resources haven’t helped. We hope you join us in fighting for these folks that only a shift in the system can help.
If you’ve been in contact with us, shared your story, and we’ve taken some or all of the steps below and things haven’t shifted – that’s likely because there is nothing that can be done in your case short of a system level reform that changes what is possible for individual cases. Like when we got a freeze on clawbacks – and how we’re now fighting to have them forgiven. It’s not because we’re not doing something to “help” you – it’s that the only thing we can do is work together.
Here are the four things:
- Service Organization: Refer you to a service organization that might be able to help you (although there are fewer and fewer that can take Sandy cases anymore) right now we can refer you to the opens in a new windowAffordable Housing Alliance if you’re in Ocean and Monmouth Counties and Eastern Service Workers Organization if you’re in Atlantic County call (609) 646-9814
- Your Elected Officials: opens in a new windowConnect you to your state or federal elected officials – sometimes they have very helpful constituent staffers and can work with you to solve your individual issue. With RREM cases, they can reach out to the DCA on your behalf. With Sandy foreclosure forbearance issues – similarly they can reach out to your bank with you.
- Flag your case for the head of RREM at DCA: Sometimes flagging your case for Sam Viavattine at the DCA can be helpful. If we decide to do that – we need your full name, address, and an explanation for what you need or are hoping to have change. This is part of what we need to get from you in writing. And while it’s tempting to tell us how #*&%^ this process has been in gorey detail – that doesn’t help us clearly communicate to the DCA what we need them to do. What are the things the DCA needs to understand about what you need to change and why so you can move forward?
- Try the Media: Sometimes sharing your story in the media is helpful – we’ve seen that work with RREM cases and Sandy foreclosure cases. As time goes on, less and less people are writing about Sandy, but we can still try. Know that connecting you to a reporter doesn’t necessarily guarantee they will end up covering your story – but we can at least try and make that connection.
It is by continuing to fight together that we’ve gotten this far – we look forward to continuing to fix our broken disaster recovery systems together.