Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to Focus Final Grants on Housing

Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund to Focus Final Grants on Housing

The Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund has awarded almost 85 percent of the $40 million it has received in donations and is preparing to disburse its fifth, and likely final, round of grants before the second anniversary of the storm, the Star-Ledger reports.

More than half of the nearly $33.8 million awarded to date has been earmarked for housing assistance, including a grant of $5.2 million to a program administered by New Jersey Community Capital to help homeowners rebuild. Peter Grof, deputy to the president at NJCC, told the Star-Ledger that more than three hundred homeowners have already been approved for funding, and the group eventually expects to help between five hundred and six hundred families.

The fund, whose board chair is Mary Pat Christie, wife of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, also has awarded grants totaling $1.75 million to Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group and more than $1 million to Coastal Habitat for Humanity in support of long-term recovery, housing assistance, and rebuilding efforts.

"Housing assistance has been, and continues to be, the greatest need across the hardest-hit counties," said Eileen Lofrese, a spokesperson for the fund. The fund's next grant cycle, which will open in early September, will focus on the areas of housing, social services, and mental health support;  the fund will not be accepting applications for economic development or financial and legal counseling.

Nina Stack, president of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, said that while a lot of money pours into disaster-affected regions when a major disaster strikes, there are many issues that remain to be addressed after those resources have dried up. "What we have learned [about] best practice in disaster philanthropy," said Stack, "is that it is about looking at the long-term."