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Sandy Rental Assistance Runs Out [AUDIO]

As of Thursday, rental assistance for Sandy victims through the Federal Emergency Management Agency has run out, leaving 1,300 people in the lurch according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Sandy damage
Mark Wilson, Getty Images

While those living in Fort Monmouth are not affected by the cuts, those still living in hotels will be subject to losing benefits.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and New Jersey Department of Community of Affairs have said they are coordinating long-term housing assistance for those who will need it.

That still leaves hundreds of families stranded — but with several options, according to Victoria Landaverde with Ignite n’ Rise, a Keansburg-based recovery organization.

“What it means to the household is, they have to find other sources of income,” Landaverde said. “They have to find housing where there is none, or they have to pursue legal measures.”

Benjamin Haygood, director of Highlands-based Bayshore Resource Center, said these Sandy victims will still be saddled with the burden of paying rent. That’s no small expense, especially since the Jersey Shore already has an expensive rental market with few available units, and is just weeks away from the summer tourism season.

“What are you going to say when you have to tell these people, ‘You have to start paying rent,’” Haygood said, “and they say, ‘I can’t pay for rent, since I’m already paying for my mortgage, and the repairs on my mortgage, since my grant hasn’t come through yet.’”

Landaverde reiterated that while these storm victims had their rent taken care of for several months, they are still facing tremendous out-of-pocket expenses.

“Look at their credit card bills, look at what they have to pay for,” she said. “Construction or demolition, most of these programs they have to put in their own money. People lost their jobs, people lost their cars.”

Haygood worries many people will end up homeless.

“Some of the people, I heard, are just packing their stuff up,” he said. “There’s a lot of people living in cars right now, there’s people living on the beach right now, there’s people living with their mother, father, son, daughter right now, and there’s people paying very high rent in addition to the mortgage on their home that is being rebuilt.”

According to the Associated Press, New York had 90,944 households receiving rental assistance. New Jersey had 44,592. A FEMA spokesman told the WSJ that 99 percent of those who received rental assistance have moved out of the program.

Both Haygood and Landaverde fear this is the first sign of bad news, as more assistance programs stand in danger of being cut with more victims finding themselves in trouble.

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