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Hundreds of Displaced Toms River Residents Scramble for Housing

Toms River real estate agencies seeking viable rentals for victims of Hurricane Sandy

One of Hurricane Sandy’s most devastating after-effects has been the displacement of hundreds of local citizens from their homes, both on the barrier islands and the mainland. As a result, real estate professionals are seeing a great impact to the local real estate market.

“Right now, we’re just trying to help people find short-term rentals,” said Chris Anthony of Weichert Realtors in Toms River. “I was displaced myself, along with friends and family members, and we’re doing our best to find them homes. We’re working on that more than anything.”

Donna Walesiewicz of Crossroads Realty in Toms River said the push is greatest for rental properties.

“The biggest thing we’re facing right now is trying to get as many people affected by the storm into rentals. We’ve been in contact with Monmouth County, trying to get empty homes rented to these people,” said Walesiewicz.

Walesiewicz said that she and her co-workers have been working “around the clock” to accomplish that task.

“These people are already looking at being out of their homes for at least 8 months, and not knowing if FEMA can assist them. People are coming here with nothing, like they’re refugees. We rented a home to a lady yesterday, and she couldn’t stop crying and hugging me,” the realtor explained.

Walesiewicz described another situation where a rented residence in Point Pleasant located for tenants was initially without heat or electricity, until the generosity of neighbors provided them with those essentials.

“Our first priority is to find housing for those displaced, and get them a roof over their heads, heat and electricity. Everyone is helping out the best they can, and those who were affected have been strong and resilient,” said Walesiewicz.

Jim Flanagan, Broker of Record for Coldwell Banker in Toms River, also explained the job of finding housing for those displaced by Sandy as “our challenge and our crisis.”

“We don’t have an inventory of short-term rentals, but we are actively working with the Ocean County Board of Realtors on this. We have been inundated with calls for help from residents,” said Flanagan.

Flanagan characterized the areas where the calls originated from as “anywhere near water,” and specifically mentioned the barrier island, Shelter Cove, Snug Harbor, Green Island and Money Island, to name a few.

“In the next few weeks, the climate will be tense to find housing for everyone. FEMA does have housing available, but it’s not within the county. There are people who have children looking to go back to school and people who commute for work, looking at being without their homes for eight months to a year. In the short-term, it will be chaos,” Flanagan said.

The realtor said that his office had created an emergency housing list, and has notified residents on that list when housing has become available for them. According to Flanagan, they have also been in contact with the state on easing restriction for vacant homes in neighboring areas, to be able to offer them as rentals. He also encouraged those who may know of a vacant home to be rented to contact Mary Ann Wissel at the Ocean County Board of Realtors, at 732-244-8111.

Mattie November 12, 2012 at 12:21 AM
First of all Donna, Holiday City is Berkeley Township- Not Toms River. So kids who lost their homes in Toms River (schools) need to live in TR to stay at their current schools or current TR school district. Second of all, the senior communities can not change their bylaws and tax status by housing families with children under 19 yrs old. They are specifically zoned as adult communities and changing that would be no easy feat, nor advantageous for the community's tax rates etc. But don't assume senior aren't helping out. I took in two family members and their huge dog and I expect they will need to live here with me for at least the next 6-8 months before they can relocate. Now a small cozy house meant for two is housing four adults and three dogs. It's not that easy, but it's what we gotta do. Also as someone else said, Seniors make up a significant number of volunteers all over Ocean county.
Mattie November 12, 2012 at 12:30 AM
You are forgetting a very important point... those vacant homes you see in all neighborhoods, senior communities or not, still belong to someone! The government can not go around commandeering properties just because its empty and use them as relocation homes for people. What kind of government do you think we have? You think because some old senior citizen passes away and their family hasn't sold off their home yet, the government can just march in there and TAKE it?? Funny how so many of you hate when the Evil Government makes rules about things, like entering disaster zones only at certain times or whatever, yet you think it's perfectly OK for the government to confiscate someone's home? Interesting.
suz November 12, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Donna, I don't know how many ways to tell this, but these communities are created for that very reason they are called "Senior Communities"! Thats number one, number two, these rentals are gone or going just as fast! Stop, please, being so bias! This has affected ALL of us in one way or another and most seniors in my community are doing and have done more than others in regular communities. I personally know a 90 year old who lost everything who is from West Point Island...he DESERVES a quiet, good neighbor to live in NOW. Stop this stupid reaction that we are against helping PEOPLE who have been displaced. Seniors deserve help too!!!!
suz November 12, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Thank you Project, Finally someone who gets it!!!!!
Mattie November 12, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I'll help you there.... Google "Hotpads" . click on Hotpads real estate website when it comes up in the list. Enter any of the Toms River, (or wherever) zip codes and see for yourself the many HUNDREDS of homes for sale AND rent in that zip code area. Now tell me how so many people will be able to rent a home, for at least a year, with no furniture, and in many cases, no $$, no car, no kitchen equipment, AND (many have) no job any longer.... But if they do have the means and $$ to rent... by all means Hotpads is a good place to check, and there are many many real estate agents who can also help with a rental search. Use the phone, use the internet.
Mattie November 12, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Try here: http://hotpads.com/search#lat=39.9845636363636&lon=-74.1596681818182&zoom=19&dupeGrouping=building&listingTypes=sale,newHome,foreclosure,auction&includeVaguePricing=false&pricingFrequency=once&resultsPerQuad=24
Project Bluebeam November 12, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Seriously? You don't know how to Google "homes for rent in Toms River, NJ"?
dainty November 12, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Untrue. Toms River school kids displaced, will have to be picked up from where THEY are and delivered to their school. Another reason Toms River residents should be in TR!
Lmm November 12, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Thanks Mattie I will forward the "Hotpads" info to her. Unfortunately she needs financial assistance for at least a deposit and first months rent. I can help her with some of the daily living necessities furniture, cooking and eating utensils etc . Also remember that a lot of these rentals that are posted have been rented already...they are going quickly to those who have cash on hand.
NancyInTR November 12, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Well, Mattie, there IS a Holiday City in the Silverton Section of Toms River. Next, children DON'T need to be staying in Toms River; Toms River Schools are permitting children to attend their regular school, regardless of where they've had to temporarily relocate, they just won't get bus service. Thirdly, HUD has passed a law permitting renters under 55, without compromising the senior community's status. And finally, who said anything about the government commandeering people's private homes? Most of the vacant homes are either bank-owned or estate-owned. Don't you think the banks would be interested in making a little money, instead of just shelling out taxes each quarter?
matthew November 12, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Here is mayors Kelaher's email adress TKelaher@tomsrivertownship.com. Start pounding him with emails why and when is Ortley Beach getting in. With the warm days the mold is spreading faster and we need to do something before we all lose our homes. And where is his support, I haven't seen or heard from him once since Sandy hit us. I have a feeling he doesn't care about Ortley Beach, just cares about our tax dollars. Something has to happen now, it will be 2 weeks and still no word on Ortley Beach. FREE ORTLEY BEACH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NancyInTR November 12, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Mattie, those houses are all gone. Realtors and rental agents are swamped with desperate families.
NancyInTR November 12, 2012 at 02:02 AM
suz, HUD has already passed the laws.
NancyInTR November 12, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Computer listings are way out of date. those rentals are gone
Lmm November 12, 2012 at 02:26 AM
NancyinTR is correct I just looked up half a dozen and there are some that are listed as available that are on the barrier beaches and others posted more than a month ago and are surely occupied by now.....we will get through this but to exclude anybody because of race color or age at this time during what was declared a federal disaster (which means the county's hands are tied) is just heartless. Senior development or not temporary assistance to people who have NOTHING left after a disaster is OK and I'm sure nobody will be harmed, if anything these young people will be grateful to the senior communities for their open hearts and perhaps return the favor. These young people EXPERIENCE homelessness...loss of LIFE and things they cherished. Also understand what these little children are experiencing...they have been ripped from their homes and schools...they feel the tension of their parents and the community and they are scared.
Mr. ? November 12, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Hey all, put your mouth where your mouth should be...and not on the Patch! Toms River Council meeting 5:00 p.m. Tuesday Nov. 13th....be there or shut up!
Mr. ? November 12, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Continued.........So the rentals are all gone and all of your other bullshit and debate is just that, bullshit. First, those displaced are being shipped out of town...crap. Fema is bringing in trailers, but maybe not here. You can go to the Monmouth County camp because tents cant be erected here in Ocean and TR, right? Duh! Maybe 50 trailers in each of the TR district schools and Ocean County College and where ever else. Separate from the kids attending schools... high schools with showers... cafeterias to provide food after the school day is done...mobile laundry and even large mobile tractor trailer rigs with showers! Keep the kids local in there school and keep the parents in town with friends. Not as good as a temporary rental but at this point that's done. So all I see here is your "officials" finding some obscure reason why this cant work. That's my reply to Shelly at post # 8 that did not get posted...are you there Nick? Cant wait................
jo November 12, 2012 at 04:02 AM
good idea so many vacant homes up for forclosure perhaps renting to a family of three husband,wife,and one child,no pressure on the communty parents will transport their child to school,no school buses.this might be able to work since it's temporary with a promise that the occupant would be returning to their home once the ban has been lifted to return.great idea Judy..
PJ Ortley November 12, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Our home is in Ortley Beach and is, of course, unlivable. We were staying in a hotel in Whippany. Today a friend of ours rented us their summer home in Barnegat. They feel blessed that they avoided the water by mere inches. I hope that their generosity to let us rent and live in their home is an inspiration to others to also share.
jo November 12, 2012 at 04:10 AM
oh please suppose it was one of their families being displaced?help and need is first..don't u think...empty foreclosed or abandon properrty..c'mon where is your heart?BN It could be work out i'm sure.a small family no more than one child,keep no bus rule parents provide transport to schools,it would only be for a family returning to their homes .seems like a idea.
jo November 12, 2012 at 04:13 AM
I agree but to a small family with one child...not to much disruption within the communty..
suz November 12, 2012 at 04:31 AM
Nancy, get your facts straight....NOT for Silver Ridge!!!!!
suz November 12, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Go onto Ortley beach.org...for a start. Info on Ortley.
Mattie November 12, 2012 at 01:09 PM
Lmm :: I've been using HotPads for myself, friends and relatives for more than 4 years now. YES, sometimes you come across listings that are no longer available. YES, some of those listings - maybe lots of them- were listings on the barrier islands and other places where damage now makes them no longer available. (especially the rentals). Obviously one wouldn't look THERE. But seriously, Don't dismiss the entire source just because it's proving to be somewhat more difficult than usual in these circumstances. There's no way I believe that EVERY listing on those maps in the Toms River, Bricktown, Bayville, Beachwood area are gone - not in a week. BUT even if that is true and every single property is taken.... keep checking, because you never know when more people will start listing their properties knowing this is the time they can find renters at the drop of a hat. Now -- NANCY - as for this new HUD law about changing senior community status so hurricane victims can rent and or live there ...I have searched and searched all over HUD websites and disaster provisions, and I can't find any such new law. So can you provide a link? Maybe HUD will now provide the vouchers or assistance for people with kids to rent in senior communities, waiving THEIR restrictions on where they will allow their vouchers (for families) to go, but that doesn't mean HUD can overrule or change the actual, existing senior community laws or age restriction guidelines.
Mattie November 12, 2012 at 01:47 PM
From all I've heard, read or seen, Ortley Beach is absolutely devastated- from ocean to bay side. More than likely you have already "lost" your home. These re-entry efforts are not some anti-Ortley Beach conspiracy. Knock it off already, Matthew... you are only adding to the anxiety and paranoia surrounding people now. And by 'pounding' the mayor's inbox with irate and irrational emails, that will help HOW?? You think all he needs is a little anger and intimidation and he'll see the light? Seriously. Grow up. But please... really.... as soon as you return from 'fixing up your house' and retrieving your important things, tell us how unaffected your home was... better yet-- post a few pictures of your house and your neighbors' houses on your street. I want to see how this caution was all unnecessary because YOUR house and neighborhood is FINE....
NancyInTR November 12, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Suz, unless Silver Ridge had seceeded from the USA and declared itself an independent nation, it still falls under federal HUD laws. Your little HOA may have voted to ignore HUD...
Donna Griffin November 12, 2012 at 09:46 PM
suz -- Actually, I think the kids from Lavallette will be relocated to St. Barbara's in Toms River until their school is able to re-open. I get it that you aren't prepared to step up to the plate, where it really matters. It is more important for your retirement community to maintain its by-laws than it is to be a good neighbor. As far as vacancies are concerned, I know firsthand the retirement homes (even in Silver Ridge aka Beverly Hills apparently) are taking a huge hit in the real estate market and vacancies are plentiful. Thank you for letting the public know how Silver Ridge is prepared to help in the SHORT TERM by allowing those displaced in their community to live there for 2 months. BTW...people in Berkeley Township lost their homes too. Sandy did not discriminate along town borders but some of Ocean County's residents sure are.
Donna Griffin November 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Mattie - Interesting argument. But have you ever heard of eminent domain? Your government certainly has no problem legislating land grabs. I am also not talking about "commandeering" properties. For those property owners who would be inclined to assist their community in a time of crisis, I am merely suggesting that they be permitted to rent for a fee an otherwise unoccupied residence in an adult community for a period of 2-6 months to a small family (maximum 3 residents) without imposing an age restriction. You are the one who is assuming that I might even be suggesting that the government have ANYTHING to do with this arrangement. Clearly, from your posts in the past, American citizens are incapable of doing anything without government intervention.
Donna Griffin November 15, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Suggested this on another feed. I was surprised at the resistance of those communities to assist their younger neighbors. All that I can say is what goes around....comes around.
LittleLisaMichelle November 25, 2012 at 11:19 PM
I was homeless before the hurricane due to job loss. I've stayed on a family's couch, in my truck, and another friend's daughter's room when she's at her dad's. I'm a 43 year old full time student at OCC,now living off my student loan money that I finally just received, and a part-time job. If anyone knows of a rental in Ocean County, I would greatly appreciate info. I'm clean, friendly, courteous, and keep to myself - an outdoor smoker. I'm staying with friends but that can't last too long. I can afford up to $700 a month. Please e-mail me at dualitycont.2012@gmail.com if anyone knows of anything for me.

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