TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The administration of Gov. Chris Christie on Monday announced a plan to expand temporary and permanent housing for thousands of New Jersey residents who were displaced by Superstorm Sandy in late October.
The plan includes making even greater use of Fort Monmouth, the former Army post in Monmouth County.
The plan, released Monday evening, calls for the state to renovate existing housing at the former Army post, which closed last year, and install temporary structures there.
Forty-five units had been under renovation for the displaced at the former post. The Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority is moving to purchase as many as 375 units on the base that will be turned into permanent housing. Modular ranch-style homes will also be placed on existing concrete slabs there that contain utility hookups, officials said.
“Among our top priorities is to ensure that everyone who has been displaced by Hurricane Sandy can find temporary housing that meet their needs in one available form or another, so they can begin to recover from this major disaster,” Christie said in a statement. The state is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The state will also place manufactured housing in existing mobile home parks for displaced residents. Congressman Frank Pallone said Friday the trailers and mobile homes will allow people to live in their own communities, close to their damaged homes.
That move came as housing options started to dwindle for thousands of displaced residents.
“You know, they’re not going to be able to stay in a motel. They’re not going to get a voucher, or their relatives or their friends are going to get tired of them,” Pallone told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith on Saturday.
The state also has asked to extend FEMA’s transitional shelter program, which provides hotel vouchers. As of last Thursday, more than 2,600 New Jersey households were still staying in hotels or motels with the rooms paid for by FEMA.
More than 9,500 New Jersey households sustained enough damage in the storm to require temporary housing, according to the state. Most of them lived in Ocean, Monmouth and Middlesex Counties.
As of last week, more than 48,000 New Jersey households are eligible for federal home repair funds. The total cost so far exceeds $258 million. The state is also adding Hudson and Bergen counties to the emergency home-repair program.
Residents in New Jersey, the densest state in the country, have been scrambling to find temporary shelter since the storm hit Oct. 29. Rentals have been difficult, if not impossible to come by, and hotel rooms throughout the region have been full since the storm.
The state set up temporary, tent-like housing at the Monmouth Park Racetrack last month.
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