The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Transitional Sheltering Assistance program has been extended an additional 14 days at the request of the state, Gov. Chris Christie's office announced Thursday.
The extension runs through March 22, requiring eligible households currently living in hotels through the program to check out by the following day, unless the program is extended once again.
The TSA program was activated immediately following Hurricane Sandy. The purpose of the program is to allow eligible survivors who cannot return to their homes because of storm damage to stay in participating hotels or motels until more suitable housing is available.
Approximately 675 families remain in hotels and motels as part of the program while they wait for another solution, including being grant temporary housing, or being able to move into an apartment with rental assistance.
"Many of our Sandy-displaced families remain in need of assistance as they continue to locate a more permanent housing solution," Christie said in a release. "I thank FEMA for their continued recognition of the challenges and continued needs faced by these families, as well as their work with my Administration to ensure they have the relief they need. The extension will give these families additional time to work out a housing solution that meets their needs."
According to a release, individuals and households in the program had to register with FEMA for assistance; pass identity verification; and demonstrate that they are displaced from a primary residence located in a geographic area that is designated for TSA.
In an effort to place displaced families in more permanent housing solutions, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has teamed up with the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency and the non-profit organization Socialserve.com to update rental listings to the New Jersey Housing Resource Center, which can be viewed at www.NJHRC.com.
Owners of apartments and other rental properties are urged to list their units on the free housing resource site. According to a release, FEMA and relief workers are using the online site everyday to aid storm survivors locate housing. Landlords are also encouraged to adjust lease terms if needed to accommodate displaced families.
Individuals who have questions regarding their eligibility should contact the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA).
To register with FEMA, call the phone number listed above or visit www.disasterassistance.gov on the Internet.