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35 Families Still Displaced From Belmar Homes Due to Hurricane Sandy

Officials say need is still great for Belmar families struggling to return, rebuild

Nearly three dozen families remain homeless from their Belmar residences, displaced in temporary housing such as hotels, rental units or with families elsewhere, officials said this week.

Councilwoman Jennifer Nicolay reported this week that 35 Belmar families remained displaced from their primary home in the borough, due to the devastation their homes faced from Hurricane Sandy in October.

Now, five months after the storm, those families remain in need. However, the use of a borough-administered donation collection and distribution to families has come under criticism by Councilman Jim Beam for its lack of transperancy and possible conflict of interest.

Mayor Matt Doherty said those in need should not fear that their private matters would be made public, and encouraged further donations to the borough's Hurricane Sandy fund. The fund first distributed gift cards to displaced families and those without power for weeks, and has now moved to cash distributions from the fund.

The borough has a waiting list for the fund, Doherty said. It is overseen by the borough's social service staff.

At the close of 2012, Doherty said 55 families were displaced due to the storm. The storm surge uprooted most of Belmar's boardwalk and severely damaged homes and business near the ocean front. The flooding reached St. Rose school and Belmar's lakes were pumped in an attempt to quell water levels.

paulie April 05, 2013 at 03:31 PM
@towncrier - You are obviously not an economics major. Rebuilding the boardwalk, and helping displaced familes, are two seperate, and distinct, subjects. The boardwalk restoration is done with monies, federal, state, & local that simply can not be dispersed to individuals for rebuilding a privite home. You are also off base when you are critical of closing Ocean Avenue. This is necessary to be ready for the summer tourism season which generates updards of 90% of these businesses annual revenue. If you didn't have tourism dollars to add to Blemar's tax base your property taxes would likely triple. Is that what you propose?
Catherine Galioto (Editor) April 05, 2013 at 03:33 PM
My attempt is to present Bean and the Mayor's arguments, and any others on the subject. Here they are presented briefly, as the article here focuses on the number of families displaced. In the previous article the arguments are presented at length. In a coming article from this week's council, it will be presented again at length. Thanks.
V9 April 05, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Sign the petition to have Obama respond to Stop FEMA Now's requests: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/stop-fema-now-repeal-revised-biggert-waters-act-2012-provide-correct-bfe-maps-nfip-should-subsidize/CVLl0Wjt
KathleenKochel April 05, 2013 at 05:12 PM
@paulie. If it was long ago established by the court that the the beach budget is separate from the town budget and the beach budget including any surplus can not in any way be used in the township budget, how would the lack of a boardwalk for this summer effect the property taxes? I also agree that hiding the recipients name from the public is shameful. If someone is truly in need there is no shame in receiving assistance post disaster. If the names were going to be publicly acknowledged would the individuals have refused the assistance? If so the don't really need it. It wreaks of the township offering favors to a few. Whether accurate or not, that is how it appears. Individuals I know have now refused to donate to Belmar because of the lack of transparency. It's disappointing, especially when state recommendations are NOT to do specifically what Belmar is doing with their donations.
Enter Sandman April 05, 2013 at 05:14 PM
@paulie- you are obviously not a sociology or political science major. If as much time and effort had been devoted by King Doherty and his Court minus one to getting people back into their homes as has been given to rebuilding the "glorious Belmar boardwalk" then these 35 families would no longer be displaced. But it's a matter of chosen priorities and all but one of the local politicos have opted to ignore the homeless in lieu of recreating the illusion that all is fine and dandy in Belmar. "Why just look at our shiny new boardwalk if you don't believe us!" Go ahead and believe the illusion rather than the reality gullible Paulie.
Enter Sandman April 05, 2013 at 05:19 PM
@paulie- The length of Ocean Ave DID NOT have to be closed all these months. It was an arrogant decision by Doherty to do so and for no other reason. All the other shore towns found ways to get the beachfront roads open while construction and rebuilding were going on. Just more of Doherty's "nobody's going to tell me what to do, you're just going to do what I tell you to".
Enter Sandman April 05, 2013 at 05:27 PM
You missed in your attempt Catherine. All you did was make it sound like Belmar would be helping these homeless if not for Councilman Bean standing in the way. The two have nothing to do with one another, getting help to those who need it and Bean's wanting assurances that it's being done legally and fairly.
jerseyswamps April 05, 2013 at 05:33 PM
Lot to cover here. Kathy, you can't demand to know who is on food stamps or any entitlement program. Confidential. Many who need these programs certainly would not accept them if it were public information. Something silly about pride. Imagine that. Giving out cards is similar. It should be kept confidential. Now, if someone has evidence the cards were given to friends who didn't need them then that would be different.
jerseyswamps April 05, 2013 at 05:39 PM
The boardwalk should be a top priority. A lot of businesses in Belmar and the surrounding area depend on a crowd going to Belmar. And what attracts them to Belmar is the boardwalk. You would have a lot more than 35 families negatively impacted if the boardwalk was not completed before the season. BTW, I wonder how many of the 35 families are chronically in need of housing and other services.
Belmargirl April 05, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Jerseyswamps - that is precisely the problem! You can not determine if cards or now cash were given out to friends because the mayor has made it confidential. The point, and the point of Councilman Bean is the borough should, as the State suggests, not be giving out charity to people after the hurricane!!! They should not! These types of things are better left to registered charitable organizations! When a donation is made to the borough of Belmar, it becomes a public fund. When public funds are paid out it becomes public record. Food stamps, and section 8 housing are government programs with general fund monies budgeted specifically for the program. Collecting donations and disbursing the monies as elected officials or appointed by (hired by) elected officials deem fit is a dangerous practice! I'm not saying the mayor and council gave this money or gift cards to their cronies or people who said they would vote for them, but the meer appearance of a conflict of interest is exactly why the borough should not be involved in this practice!
paulie April 05, 2013 at 05:44 PM
CRYER: get it straight pal, lose tax dollars from tourism and it needs to be mabe up in some way. How? And actually you write as if you are a socialist, or flat out uninformed about law, because the money being used for the Boardwalk CAN NOT legally be given to a private citizen for their home rebuilding. Kathy: Of course the beach budget is seperate but that was not what I was referring. Your municipal tax base relies on the beachfront business and the tourist dollars that support them. Without these rateables in place you, the taxpayer, would need to fund the shortfall. And lastly, I happen to agree with you Cryer - your mayor is a joke and the fact his lovely wife was on AshBritt's payroll, and personally profitted from Sandy, disgusts me to no end.
mtpierce April 05, 2013 at 06:03 PM
I agree totally with Paulie & Kathy both of these people know how the town operates. A list of donated funds and those receiving them would show the public where their monies went and where they didn't. Many people were told they didn't qualify and were not on the list no one was shown the list. I rest my case. Tulip
Enter Sandman April 05, 2013 at 06:08 PM
@jerseyswamps- wow did your neck just get red! So storm related displaced families should be judged as worthy of housing assistance based on whether it is an acute housing need or a chronic condition? Are you going to judge that jerseyswamps? Decide who gets a roof over their head or moves into the swamps of Jersey with you? Very smug and elitist from a swamp dweller like you. Oh yeah, and borderline racist.
Enter Sandman April 05, 2013 at 06:12 PM
@paulie- uh get it staright pal. Studying sociology does not make one a socialist. One is a college major, field of study and vocation while the other is a form of government. Sociologists and socialists are not the same by any means.
paulie April 05, 2013 at 06:29 PM
@TownCrybaby - Well no kidding Einstein - I said you write as if you are a socialist regarding your tainted stance on how funds should be disbursed without consideration of law. And I think everyone is aware that Socialism is a form of government - Look no further then the White House for proof.
jerseyswamps April 05, 2013 at 06:39 PM
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to expand. Every community has their fair share of those who qualify and receive assistance. And of those who receive assistance many abuse the system. Some know how to scam the system. Shore communities that have winter rentals have more of these families and individuals. I know something about the problem. I have 32+ years as a social worker in the streets. Thousands of cases. You have welfare hotels/motels/rooming houses in Belmar and adjoining towns. I've been in them hundreds of times. Some right on Ocean Ave. and some within the first few blocks of the ocean. Some of these people will always be "homeless" and receive entitlements. Racist? Where did that come from? Your usual style to throw that in when you disagree? May as well throw in homophobe, too.
Catherine Galioto (Editor) April 05, 2013 at 06:40 PM
I disagree. But thanks, comments are always welcome.
Enter Sandman April 05, 2013 at 06:46 PM
@paulie- No, Einstein was a physicist, not a sociologist or a socialist and I am none of the three. And wrong again, I'm very concerned that funds are disbursed according to law. That's what started this whole thing anyway. Are the Belmar funds being distributed lawfully and to those needing them the most. Maybe they are but we'll never know because there's no transparency. Only Doherty cloaked secrecy that gives at least the appearance that not everything is on the up and up. Mayor Matt should want there to no doubt in anyone's mind that things are being correctly and legally. Why's he hiding behind the secrecy/privacy shield? Something to hide I would imagine.
jerseyswamps April 05, 2013 at 06:57 PM
No one knew how to deal with this storm. In the days and weeks after the storm people were hurting all over. The federal response was nothing to brag about and they are supposed to be the experts. A lot of people wanted to help and many people including elected officials were thinking and acting out of the box. The mayor of a small shore town like Belmar MIGHT know who was hurting real bad right now and needed something right now. Considering it has now become political fodder perhaps he should not have given out cards. If I was a mayor and had an opportunity to help someone immediately I'd probably do it and take the politics. Comes with the job. BTW, I had a flooded home. I was there everyday, working. Red Cross came around with hot food and supplies, about a week after the storm. Some individuals not connected with any charity or government program came around right away. Both were helpful.
Belmargirl April 05, 2013 at 07:21 PM
While I don't disagree that neighbors should help neighbors and communities have, what I believe, is a responsibility to help there own, especially with the destruction of a storm like Sandy. But, this has been going on now for 5 months! Giving people food, blankets, etc in the days and even weeks after the storm is one thing. We have moved from gift cards to cash! And we have done this with an opinion from the State Department of Community Affairs to not do this! I completely understand the mayor's position of not releasing the names of those who received donations, but by continuing to have the borough administer charity work is absurd! The borough needs to donate that money to a local charity like the Women's Club, Vincent DePaul, a charity that can guarantee it stays within Belmar. It is time for the mayor and council to stop the charity work, and end the appearance of a conflict in interest once and for all!
charlie April 05, 2013 at 07:42 PM
I agree. every other town along the beach has ocean ave open, from Bradley to Springlake. Someone must have a sweetheart deal with SMRSA allowing the pumps to remain for 6 months. Put in a spillway with a bridge and get rid of the pumps. It's funny but you can't even walk on ocean ave without the oinkers giving you some crap.
jerseyswamps April 05, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Belmar's mayor may be on firm ground. Monmouth Co. administers most assistance programs in the county; TANF, GA, Food Stamps, etc. Most towns gave up their welfare departments and let the county administer the programs. Strict confidentially laws apply. But, not all towns gave up all their social service programs to the county. Middletown, a few others and Belmar have their own social service department. Belmar does their own eligibility screening for general assistance, which is welfare for adults with no minor children. Belmar will place a GA client in a room if homeless, give them cash, etc. All that is confidential. Belmar could be giving cards and other help to GA clients. Any help they give to GA clients is confidential. It's federal and state law. If a few who are not on welfare get some help you want to hold them up to the community for all to see? Pretty mean spirited.
Rick April 05, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Do you realize that online petitions aren't worth the paper they are printed on?
KathleenKochel April 06, 2013 at 03:44 AM
@jerseyswamps- Are you stating that the vast majority of donations and gift cards went to general assistance single and childless couples who were already being temporarily assisted/housed through the state reimbursed program? With income guidelines? Why would Belmar disburse the majority of gift cards and cash from the donations when they are already distributing state reimbursed funds to those clients? It was my understanding those clients are usually transients. No one wants to hold anyone up to the community for all to see as you suggest. Accountability is the issue. There are people who REALLY needed assistance and did not get any. Because Belmar decided not to follow state recommendations they have left the door open for questioning and the appearance of a conflict. Whether accurate or not it appears a possibility. That the mayor and council would prefer to snub state recommendations and do whatever they want, makes you wonder if what they wanted to do with those donations followed any recommended guidelines. Your comments have now made me wonder if they are giving donated money to clients and then getting reimbursed from the state for the cash outlay. Donations handed out to worthy Sandy victims is not covered by a confidentiality law. If you are stating Belmar is assisting GA clients with gift cards and cash then you are basically stating that they are combining GA state reimbursed funds and donated funds, otherwise confidentiality would not apply.
jerseyswamps April 06, 2013 at 10:21 AM
I was mostly responding to TownCrier who called me a red neck and racist because I wondered out loud how many if any of those 35 families were chronically homeless. I pointed out there could be some. There are places that accept the homeless in Belmar and other shore communities. Some placements are very close to the water. Belmar is unusual in that they administer their own general assistance eligibility. They have a social services department. Most towns would refer any person needing money, food, shelter to the county. These towns don't ever get to know this segment of their community. Many in this group slip in and out of need. Perhaps they need help seasonally. Belmar is in a better position to know this segment of their population. There is often a blur between who needs what and eligibility for federal and state programs. Do you know if you are feeling generous and give a homeless person $50 to buy food or a winter coat they are supposed to report that as income which could make then ineligible for all assistance? So you give a coat, or a gift card for food or clothes. Not income and they get to keep the assistance they get from the federal government that is administered by the town.
jerseyswamps April 06, 2013 at 10:45 AM
So, it can get a bit fuzzy regarding who you are helping depending on how you help them. Some people wanting to help could unknowingly make a person ineligible for ongoing assistance with a small cash gift. A professional who knows the regulations and who knows their community might be the best person to disperse assistance. Could or should they make it a public record of who they help who is NOT on a federal assistance program? Perhaps. If they could keep it straight and there was no blur between the two groups. Because if they got it wrong and did identify a general assistance recipient they could get sued. And guess which taxpayers would have to pay to defend or settle that claim? If I were running this town my social service department would have probably advised me to keep all this information confidential. I'd agree and accept the political grief. BTW, A person on general assistance gets $140/mo. to live on. Good luck with that. If they are homeless and if the county or a town like Belmar helps them with housing by placement in a dumpy room the client's cash assistance is reduced to $49/mo.
beingfair732 April 07, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Even though i agree with all things said negatively about Matt, i will say that ocean ave is owned by the county. In order for the construction to be done property the county probably mandated Matt to keep the road closed for safety reasons.
beingfair732 April 07, 2013 at 08:17 PM
no offense, but the only businesses left to gain business from the board walk is 16th ave and down; or whats left of it. The restaurant owned by the same owners of sunsets, yeah that place is ok but it gets no where near the business the south end does by dj's.
Dame Bridgid April 08, 2013 at 03:29 AM
Wah! Wah! Wah! Call the Waambulance! Without that boardwalk you deride Belmar would lose a major source of income, & EVERYONE would suffer for it. All you have done is shown your ignorance, Cryer. Without a Summer Season that includes the successful re-openiing of Belmar's scenic boardwalk ... Businesses will close. Jobs for Belmar residents will be lost. Taxes will go up. As for the families who are still homeless, try donating or assisting rather than flapping your yap. Start a petition to our representatives if you believe it is an unacceptably long wait for them to get help from our government. Do something. At least Belmar is doing something!
paulie April 08, 2013 at 12:30 PM
@Dame - In addition to showing pure ignorance Crier has demonstrated he has zero idea how the law works in relation to disbursement of disaster funds. A bleeding heart liberal no doubt.

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