Being Homeless On The Jersey Shore

By Katie Colaneri, WBGO News
Toms River. April 8, 2013

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FEMA has announced it will be ending its Temporary Shelter Assistance Program next month. More than 5,500 families were put up in hotels and motels paid by FEMA since Hurricane Sandy hit in October. But for people in some communities down the shore, the storm wasn't their first brush with homelessness.

On a recent afternoon, Maggie is standing outside the Ocean County Board of Social Services. She says FEMA told her they'd no longer be paying for her hotel room. She lost her apartment she was sharing with a friend, her belongings and her job to the storm.

"I'm looking to get housing and get financially stable and be happy," she says.

Like many visitors to this office, this wasn't Maggie's first time here. Last year, the Board of Social Services saw over 120,000 people looking for help.

Those who are at immediate risk of homelessness are given vouchers for hotels and motels, while others recieve temporary rental assistance to stay in their homes.

Ocean County officials say the need has grown dramatically over the last five years, despite increases in funding for more than 60 programs. County Administrator Carl Block says they have no choice but to put in more money for these services.

"What's the alternative? Is there something more cost-effective on a long-term basis?"

You can check out much more on this story on the most recent WBGO JournalInvestigative reporting on WBGO is made possible by a grant from the Schumann Fund.


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