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TRENTON – The Christie Administration today announced that over 300 households are being served through the Ramp Repair and Replacement and the Senior Repair and Advocacy programs, administered by the Department of Human Services (DHS) with funding from the post-Sandy Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). The programs support the Sandy recovery of seniors and individuals with disabilities.“Sandy recovery has been prolonged for many families, but it is particularly hard for seniors or people with disabilities to reconstruct their home in a way that accommodates their medical or mobility needs,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet a couple of the programs’ participants; they are incredibly resilient.”

In January, an aluminum ramp was installed for Maria Jacot, who lives in Manville, with her husband Peter. It replaced a wooden one that had been built by volunteers prior to Superstorm Sandy. Mrs. Jacot uses a wheelchair.

The Ramp Rebuild, Replacement and Installation Program provides modular ramps, which are portable and can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the configuration. These custom built ramps are made from metal, wood or fiberglass. Installation can take a few days, or a week, depending on the project specifications. To date, eight ramps totaling over $65,973 have been installed, three are pending and more than 70 applications have been requested.

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. An evaluator is then dispatched to determine whether a ramp can safely be built. Ramp designs are drafted and offered to the recipient for consideration. The schematic is then sent out to a list of qualified vendors, selected through RFP, to bid on the construction of the project.

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.

Last month, Commissioner Velez visited the Pearce family in Moonachie to check on the progress of their roof repairs, and found that their 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.

The Home Repair and Advocacy program assists seniors and residents with disabilities with items such as: 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. 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.

To date, there are 209 approved applications, including 15 jobs completed, totaling $1.045 million. Individuals in need of assistance should apply at their local Area Agency on Aging (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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