Superstorm Sandy hit hardest lower-income renters, according to an analysis of FEMA data released today by the Enterprise Community Partners and New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
At least one state group, the Fair Share Housing Center, has called on the Christie Administration to not forget assisting renters.
“The largest group of New Jerseyans impacted by Sandy are renters earning under $30,000 per year,” Adam Gordon, Fair Share Housing Center staff attorney, said in a statement. “Governor (Chris) Christie has said that he wants to focus billions of federal funds on homeowners, small businesses, and shore tourism – but he shouldn’t ignore the largest group of people impacted by Sandy.”
The reports are based on data recently released by FEMA that shows the income levels and housing status of all people impacted by the storm. The reports found that 42.5 percent of people impacted by the storm are renters. Of those renters, 41 percent are earning less than $15,000 per year and 67 percent earn less than $30,000 per year, the analysis found.
“From Ocean City to Toms River to Hoboken, lower-income renters struggle to meet their bills in low-wage jobs serving the wealthier communities around them,” Gordon said. “They have often faced local governments hostile to allowing modestly priced apartments and homes that they can afford, which has driven up housing prices for everyone. The data show that unless rebuilding is fair, lower-income people devastated by Sandy will be forced to live further and further from their jobs and communities.”
The Enterprise report also found significant impacts on New Jersey’s minority communities. Of renters impacted, 25 percent are Hispanic, 23 percent African-American, and 8 percent Asian-American.
In his fiscal year 2014 budget, Christie proposed a $40 million Sandy contingency fund to cover costs in case the federal government doesn’t reimburse some of the costs. The administration’s budget summary states that 41,000 households are currently receiving temporary rental help from FEMA. In addition, the administration has set aside 1,000 vouchers from the Section 8 program to help low-income households to move into permanent housing.
The report also found that well known Shore communities like Toms River and Seaside Heights have a “substantial” number of lower-income renters, 57 percent and 77 percent, respectively.
Low-income residents are those earning less than $30,000 annually.