Sandy Home Repair Program Finds Few Takers

While in Long Branch, New Jersey, stands ready and willing to repair homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, only a few dozen victims of the storm have accepted the offer, reports.

So far this year, the Habitat affiliate, which serves an area stretching from Raritan Bay to the Garden State Parkway — a largely coastal region hard hit by the 2012 superstorm — has helped repair about thirty-five homes through its Sandy recovery program — far short of its goal of at least a hundred homes. According to Ray Gabler, executive director of the affiliate, area residents just aren't aware that the organization, which is best known for building homes for low-income families, also does home repairs. "It's a common occurrence," said Gabler. "People think of Habitat for new-home, affordable-home construction."

To be eligible for home repairs, applicants must prove they own the home and meet income guidelines — a maximum of $65,750 annually for a family of four — and apply any insurance payments they receive toward the cost of repairs first. Gabler said his group has been getting the word out by attending Sandy resource fairs, meeting with other organizations working to assist storm victims, and even going door to door.

Other Habitat affiliates on the Jersey Shore have had better success. One of them, was already known for its A Brush With Kindness program, which has helped low-income homeowners with home repair and renovations projects for more than three years.

Still, many Jersey Shore residents remain frustrated by the paperwork required by their insurance companies, FEMA, and other relief organizations. "The premise is we are not going to have families waiting a year, year and a half, two to get home," NOHFH executive director Suzan Fichtner told USA Today. "We are going to do the best we can with the resources we have."

Susanne Cervanka. "." USA Today 07/15/2013.