The money to repair or rebuild Sandy-struck county homes should start to flow in the next few weeks, the head of the state Department of Community Affairs said Tuesday.
Richard E. Constable III, commissioner of the New Jersey DCA, said beginning in July thousands of $10,000 checks should be distributed to county homeowners who applied to one of two grant programs offered to residents who lost their primary homes during the October storm.
Constable was among several state and local officials at the newly opened Housing Recovery Center in Freehold Township Tuesday.
The center, one of nine throughout the state, was opened Saturday to aide county homeowners navigate through the process of applying for state grants to help repair or rebuild primary residences.
“This is a place where homeowners and renters can go to and get guidance about the rebuilding process,’’ Constable said. “They can apply here, they can get advice from one of the housing advisors, and they can learn more about the programs that we have.’’
The center – at 3 Paragon Way – is among several conduits the state is making available to residents hoping to gain access to the $780 million in state grants, drawn from a $60 billion Sandy federal relief package approved in January which makes available an initial $1.8 billion for New Jersey residents and businesses.
More than 10,000 people in the nine affected New Jersey counties -- Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, Bergen, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union -- have already applied for the grants, Constable said.
The state is offering $10,000 grants through the $180 million Homeowner Resettlement Program to encourage residents to resettle in their existing primary home or resettle in the same county.
Those grants are in addition to a $150,000 grants available to qualifying homeowners under the state’s Homeowner Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program, a $600 million program.
State Senator Jennifer Beck, Freeholder Serena DiMaso and Freehold Township Mayor Barbara McMorrow on Tuesday toured the mainly empty facility that opened just days ago. Joan Greer, director of operations for the state DCA, said the office will train employees as necessary to meet demand and that the office is anticipated to house about 150 employees.
Homeowners can apply online at www.renewjerseystronger.org or by phone at 855-SANDYHM (855-726-3946). In the next several weeks the DCA plans to have several mobile recovery centers, where housing advisors travel to affected areas to assist homeowners or renters who are unable to use the other methods of applying for aid, Constable said.
Homeowners are encouraged to apply by June 30, but an early application does not guarantee a grant. Applications that are received on or before then will be prioritized based on degree of damage, income levels and communities that suffered the greatest impact from the storm.