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Social Services Block Grant Funds Will Be Used to Complete Project
Trenton, NJ – The Christie Administration today announced the first recipient of the state's Ramp Rebuild, Replacement and Installation Program, made possible through a $2.89 million federal Social Services Block Grant (SSBG), administered through the New Jersey Department of Human Services' (DHS) Division of Disability Services. The awardees are an elderly couple in Point Pleasant Beach, whose homemade 'make-shift' ramp was washed away by Superstorm Sandy.The Tomlinsons - Joseph and Aldea - bought their home 45 years ago. It was damaged by Sandy but has been repaired, except for the ramp. Aldea has survived multiple strokes, is a wheelchair user and can no longer speak. Joseph and a paid caregiver must carry Aldea up and down the front steps whenever she needs to leave the home for doctor's appointments.
"This is exactly the type of situation this grant is designed to address," said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez during a visit to the Tomlinsons' home. "This couple has endured many hardships, but with this funding, financing the rebuilding of a ramp won't be one of them. I'm thrilled to be here today and to surprise them with the good news that we are building them a new ramp."
In the three weeks since DHS began accepting applications for the program, more than a hundred inquiries have been received  from individuals with disabilities and families living with a person with disabilities who need a ramp repaired, replaced or installed because of Sandy's destruction. Many must raise their flood-prone homes and will need a ramp in order to access the  door.

To be eligible, applicants must provide proof of loss or need, and present a medical certification confirming the presence of a disability that requires a ramp. The Division of Disability Services (DDS) will then dispatch an evaluator to determine whether a ramp can safely be built. Ramp design details will then be drafted and a drawing of possible designs will be offered to the recipient for consideration. The DDS would then send the schematic out to a list of qualified vendors - selected through RFP - to bid on the construction of the project.

"The ability to enter and egress a residence safely is critical for people with disabilities," said Joseph Amoroso, Director of DDS. "This ramp gives the Tomlinsons back their independence, safety and self-sufficiency."

The Ramp Rebuild, Replacement and Installation Program provides modular ramps - which are portable and can cost several thousands of dollars depending on the configuration - made from metal, wood or fiberglass to eligible applicants. They are custom built to the client's needs. Installation can take a few days or a week depending on the project specifications.

"This would be such a blessing," said Joseph Tomlinson, when interviewed after submitting an application. "Since the storm, our caregiver and I have had to carry my wife in and out. Somehow we've managed, but this ramp would certainly make things a lot easier."

SSBG funding is crucial to preserving the social services safety net in the areas most impacted by Superstorm Sandy. In the months and years to come, these services will be essential to rebuilding and restoring residents' very basic needs in storm recovery.

Individuals interested in applying for the Ramp Rebuild, Replacement and Installation Program can call DDS at 1-888-285-3036. Ramps will be built for eligible applicants until the funding is exhausted.

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