(see bolded text for update)
State Assemblyman Declan O'Scanlon today clarified a statement that came from the governor's office Monday night, regarding housing for displaced Sandy victims.
According to O'Scanlon, the Sandy housing units at Fort Monmouth will all be temporary and will initially total 180 (this includes the 45 currently being prepared for move in on Dec. 20).
O'Scanlon told Patch this includes 42 units on Megill Drive in Eatontown and 130 in the lodge area of Oceanport (pictured here), "give or take 10 units."
"That might be able to be expanded by another couple of hundred units if the need arises," he said, adding that the expansion would come in the lodge area. All units would only be available for about 18 months.
O'Scanlon said he expected the "vast majority" who choose to locate here will only stay for about a year and that in that time all children will be bussed back to their home districts.
One of FEMA's main criteria for relocating displaced residents is proximity to their homes, O'Scanlon said. That would mean that those in Oceanport and the surrounding towns such as Monmouth Beach, Sea Bright and the Bayshore area could likely find a temporary spot at the fort.
In a later interview O'Scanlon clarified these remarks to say, "We very well may have some folks in greater need of housing - that are a little further away - than those in the immediate area."
"The talk of permanent housing," he said, "in Officer's Row (in Oceanport) and Howard Commons (in Eatontown) won't be suitable for displaced storm victims."
These units he said would not be available for six months to a year because of the Request for Offer to Purchase process, which is lengthy.
These units he said, are part of the redevelopment plan agreed upon by the towns in 2008.
"We are going to take care of everybody," he said. "But people need to communicate their need to FEMA first. They can call my office if they are not getting any action."
In the last week and a half, O'Scanlon said his office processed housing requests from about 70 displaced residents.
O'Scanlon stressed the importance of residents contacting FEMA first to alert the agency to their need. He also suggested that the displaced go to a Disaster Recovery Center and have a face to face conversation with a FEMA representative.
He also confirmed today that until recently FEMA hotline representatives were not fully aware of the Fort Monmouth housing and were not offering it to displaced people. Since that time he said, FEMA has been contacting those people to ask them about locating at the fort.
O'Scanlon also said that FEMA has identified 122 potential places to locate FEMA trailers - off site from Fort Monmouth. Click here to read more about the FEMA trailers headed to this area.
Original report: Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday evening that the state and the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) will issue "requests for offer to purchase" on 375 units at the defunct military installation. School students who end up living at the fort will be provided busing to their home districts, Christie said in a release.
The state plans to renovate several hundred housing units at Fort Monmouth in addition to the 45 units it's expected to open Dec. 20 to house area residents displaced by superstorm Sandy.
That announcement had been expected by local and state officials and should eliminate the need for Oceanport to sublease a fort building to house residents.
Oceanport Mayor Michael Mahon called the announcement a "step in the right direction."
"It's overdue," he said, "and I'm hopeful that it can come on line as quickly as possible. Hopefully this will be a nice Christmas gift for many families who lost so much."
These new housing units will be offered as permanent housing and not the long term temporary housing previously discussed. "This unlocks the opportunity for other redevelopment that could have commercial potential."
Oceanport, mostly a bedroom community, lacks significant ratables from businesses. It has long been the plan to redevelop the fort into a live, work, play community where businesses locate their to serve the residents.
“Among our top priorities is to ensure that everyone who has been displaced by Hurricane Sandy can find temporary housing that meets their needs in one available form or another, so they can begin to recover from this major disaster,” Christie said.
The Christie Administration, in partnership with FEMA, also will:
- Place manufactured housing units on existing pads in mobile home parks
- Request an extension of FEMA’s Transitional Sheltering Assistance program to accommodate those residents who are currently staying in hotels and motels. The program will be re-evaluated to determine the need beyond the January extension date;
- Add Hudson and Bergen counties to the list of jurisdictions where FEMA’s Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program is offered. Through the program, homeowners can apply through their municipalities for eligible repair work on residences, including electrical meter repairs, shelter essential measures and rapid temporary exterior repairs so that they can live in their homes while permanent repairs are made. The program is already offered in Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex counties.
“A very high percentage of displaced households were staying with family and friends when they registered with FEMA. However, as some of these housing situations become unsustainable, residents who have been unable to secure available, affordable housing will need additional temporary housing alternatives,” said Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard E. Constable, III.