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Moonachie homeowners able to make roof repairs with state grant money
TRENTON – DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez  today visited the Pearce family in Moonachie to check on the progress of their roof repairs, which are being completed through the Home Repair and Advocacy Program, administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) and funded through a Sandy Social Services Block Grant (SSBG).John and Anna Pearce were displaced from their Moonachie home when it was flooded and damaged extensively by winds during Superstorm Sandy. Even after receiving assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their flood insurance carrier, as well as assistance from the Bergen County non-profit, Rebuilding Together, they couldn’t afford to replace their roof until they received approval for their application to the program.

“The Pearces’ story is representative of the challenges many seniors and residents with disabilities are facing in their Sandy recovery efforts, since they often have fixed incomes and may not have the ability to fulfill or comply with onerous insurance claim requirements,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez, who met with the homeowners to hear how the program assisted them. “It is incredibly comforting to know that with assistance from this program, their home repair list is finally complete.”

The Home Repair and Advocacy program is designed to assist seniors and residents with disabilities who are homeowners in the nine most impacted counties, but it is available in all 21 counties. Eligible applicants can receive up to $5,000 for home repairs. There are home repair coordinators who are available to work with individuals on their application process and facilitate the work with the vendors as necessary.

“What makes this program unique is that we have included an advocacy component to help people who qualify, every step of the way,” explained DHS Deputy Commissioner Lowell Arye. “We will give them the personalized advice and support they need to make their homes livable.”

Repairs may include: replacement of interior wall boards, mold remediation, restoration of heating and cooling systems, fixing electrical, patching roofs, cutting and removal of trees, debris disposal, and refurbishing of major home appliances.

More than $8 million in funding was disbursed to the state’s 21 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) for the Home Repair and Advocacy program.The Bergen County Division of Senior Services received $986,372.To date, three projects have been completed, two in Hudson County and one in Cape May County. There are 66 projects pending statewide; nine in Bergen County.

Individuals in need of assistance should apply at their local AAA or call 1-877-222-3737 for information regarding the program.

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.


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