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Ventnor woman with disabilities regains self-reliance and independence
TRENTON – The Christie Administration today cut the ribbon on a new accessibility ramp installed at a property in Ventnor that was nearly destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. The house since has been restored but, until recently, remained inaccessible to the owner until the new 25 foot aluminum modular ramp was built through the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Ramp Rebuild, Replacement and Installation Program, using federal Social Services Block Grant funding.
“Sandy recovery means different things to different people,” said DHS Commissioner Jennifer Velez. “For this homeowner, her ability to safely enter and exit her home, using her wheelchair, was essential to her. I’m so glad that our ramp program helped give her back a level of independence she didn’t have, even before Sandy.”

Previous to the superstorm, Anne Marie Fargo, the homeowner, had to leave her motorized wheelchair in an outdoor shed and depend upon a family member to carry her into the house because she could not afford a ramp. Flooding from Sandy destroyed the shed and the wheelchair, leaving the homeowner housebound for several months.

She wrote to Governor Chris Christie requesting assistance and staff at the DHS was dispatched to work with local non-profit groups to have her shed rebuilt, a new motorized wheelchair donated, and qualified her for the Ramp Rebuild, Replacement and Installation Program.

“Seniors and people with disabilities can have a more difficult time in the storm recovery process,” said Joseph Amoroso, Director of DHS’ Division of Disability Services (DDS), which oversees the ramp replacement program. “It can be incredibly overwhelming to manage multiple repair projects, contractors, insurance claims and federal applications when a person’s mobility is limited. Helping Anne Marie settle into a new normal has been incredibly rewarding.”

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.

DHS began accepting applications for the program in October 2013. More than 42 applications 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. To date, 18 ramps have been completed.

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. DDS sends an evaluator to determine whether a ramp can safely be built. Ramp designs are drafted and offered to the recipient for consideration. DDS then sends the schematic 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.

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