Thursday, January 31, 2013

Local Assistance for Hurricane Sandy Needed as Thousands Still Displaced

Even though the federal government is certainly needed in order to alleviate some of the burden and destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, federal officials and bureaus might not offer the best suggestions as to where the money should be spent. Some of the federal funding for the rebuilding of Hurricane Sandy ravaged areas should be allocated to local and municipal leaders for distribution, according to speakers during a meeting about Hurricane Sandy reconstruction financing. And since there are more than 3,500 peoplestill living in FEMA sponsored hotels without knowing whether or when their assistance will be cancelled, it is important that all levels of assistance are taken into account.

The goal of the discussion was to alert the financing officials of the need to begin the rebuilding process from the ground up—not the top down. The restoration efforts must come at a local level; the mayors and local officials have a better grasp of what the communities need than Beltway politicians, but all input is still needed.

Thousands of people are still displaced, without any clear idea of when they will their eligibility for hotel assistance will expire. Even though the rebuilding of boardwalks and other tourist-heavy locations are well underway, many people are still waiting for insurance assistance so that they can begin the long and arduous process of rebuilding their homes. 

FEMA assistance is withdrawn when it is determined that the claimants are eligible for rental assistance, have housing options or are able to return to their homes, but since every case is different, it is impossible to know how individual situations will be evaluated.  How will officials determine what is a viable housing option and what isn’t? What if the damaged and uninhabitable home is mortgaged and the assistance recipient must continue to make mortgage payments?  The hotel rooms do not have kitchens; the Sandy refugees must eat all of their meals out, which is quite expensive. The transportation to and from school and work isn’t free, either. Assistance recipients find that the money which was intended for rental security deposits is continually dwindling away on inescapable expenses.

The housing situation highlights the need for communication between federal and local offices.  While FEMA has issued 1,000 housing vouchers, it is up to local representatives to distribute them as fairly as possible.  Hopefully, the people who are still stranded in hotels without any idea of when they will be able to return to a home will finally get the assistance they need.

Solomon, Josh: Jersey Shore Leaders Continue to Press for Hurricane Sandy Funds Huffington Post 1/24/2013

Barr, Meghan; Zezima, Katie: Displaced Hurricane Sandy Victims Get Temporary Shelter At Hotels Huffington Post 1/25/2013

No comments:

Post a Comment