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181 Brick Homeowners Get House-Raising Grants; More Withdrawn or Denied

A house being raised following Superstorm Sandy damage. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

A house being raised following Superstorm Sandy damage. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

Out of 625 applications for hazard mitigation grants in Brick Township, 181 have been approved so far, officials said, while a higher number were denied or withdrawn.

The grants, which normally provide up to $30,000 toward the raising of one’s home that was damaged during Sandy, are funded through a federal disaster recovery aid package and administered by the state Department of Environmental Protection. They were offered only to those whose damaged home were their primary residences. The grants cover costs related to engineering, construction, permits and utility work.

To date, the DEP has submitted more than 1,400 applications to FEMA and expects more approvals in the near future, officials said this week.  More than half of the homeowners who have applied for elevation grants are in Ocean and Monmouth counties.

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“This Administration is committed to a comprehensive recovery strategy that will make New Jersey stronger and more resilient to future storms,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin. “These elevation grants are an important component of this effort.  We are continuing to work hard to get future grants processed as quickly as possible.”

But as the state continues to make progress in submitting applications for approval, many are continuing to be denied. In Brick, the statistics show that of the 625 applications, 243 were denied – more than were approved – and 201 were withdrawn before they could be approved or denied.

There are numerous reasons an application can be denied, from paperwork errors to a homeowner’s failure to comply with deadlines. Other denials are because homeowners changed or expanded the footprints of their homes prior to a FEMA review.

Despite the troubles some have had with the program, state officials say they are making progress in getting applications approved.

FEMA recently approved nearly $4.5 million in grant awards for 148 properties, bringing the total of approved grants statewide to 1,064, representing nearly $32 million in award approvals to date.  The DEP hit the milestone six months after announcing the first round of approvals in Brigantine in April. In all, New Jersey has committed $100 million in HMGP funds to potentially elevate approximately 2,700 primary residential structures.