Joseph Nezgoda: “The program is helping people who need help. I am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given. The program is a beautiful thing.”
“I was here when Sandy hit,” said Robert Newman, a resident of Seaside Heights since 2002. He stayed in his second floor apartment, which is located three blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and one and one-half blocks from Barnegat Bay.
He went out the next morning around 5 a.m. to photograph the water that still stood three and a half feet high on the street. “Sandy was bad.”
The apartment building’s ground floor was inundated with waist-high water and the entire inventory of cars from a used car business on the property floated up against the building. Soon, mold started to grow downstairs and climb up the walls into the two upstairs units.
All residents were ordered to leave Seaside Heights, which was without water, gas or electric utility service due to Sandy.
“When Sandy hit, it disrupted everyone’s life,” said Joseph Nezgoda, who owns the apartment building.
Faced with the daunting challenge of completely repairing his rental property, Nezgoda knew he needed help.
“Then I heard about the Landlord Rental Repair Program,” Nezgoda said. “It’s a life saver.”
The Landlord Rental Repair Program (LRRP) is one of the numerous Sandy recovery programs funded with federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery funds provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and administered by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA).
LRRP provides up to $50,000 per Sandy-damaged unit to assist eligible rental property owners with repairs. To be eligible for the award, the rental property owner must rent the assisted-unit to a low-to-moderate income (LMI) household at approved affordable rents following completion of repairs. In addition to increasing the supply of affordable rental housing in areas damaged by Superstorm Sandy, LRRP is also helping revitalize storm-impacted neighborhoods.
Nezgoda qualified for the LRRP grant to repair the three rental units in his building.
He has high praise for his landlord advisor who assisted him with the program. “The people in government were really willing to help. My advisor got right back to me whenever I called. You always knew where you stood. That made it a lot easier.”
All three units are now being rented at affordable rates to LMI tenants. One pre-storm tenant, Robert Newman, wanted to move back, and he did. Newman said he returned to his second floor apartment on Christmas Eve 2014. He said he wanted to return to his same apartment because Seaside Heights “is my home.”
Nezgoda said: “He has his place back better than it was before. It’s a wonderful opportunity.”
“You guys helped me out so much,” Nezgoda told DCA Deputy Commissioner Samuel Viavattine, who oversees the Sandy Recovery Division (SRD), and David Mazzuca, Assistant Director of Housing Recovery for SRD, during a recent visit. “The program is helping people who need help. I am grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given. The program is a beautiful thing.”
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