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19 Apr 2017

Northern Ocean County Housing Resource Fair

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 from 11:00AM to 2:00PM at the Brick Presbyterian Church, 111 Drum Point Road, Brick Twp., NJ.

Come to the FREE housing resource fair in Ocean County for New Jersey residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy.  Attendees will have the opportunity to meet one-to-one with housing counselors, developers, landlords, and representatives from other housing support services.

Click here to view or download a printable version of this flyer.

18 Apr 2017

Sandy Workshop in Union Beach – April 26, 2017

Are you still having issues with your recovery from Sandy?  Come to our upcoming Sandy Recovery Workshop at the Union Beach Borough Hall from 4 – 7PM on Wednesday, April 26.  You will learn about the latest issues with RREM (including closeout challenges), flood insurance claim reviews, and contractor disputes / fraud.  Or bring your own questions and issues.  There will be plenty of opportunities for discussion.

Click here to view or download a printable version of this flyer or our May-June workshop flyers.  Click here for our calendar of events.

Call now to register! 732-569-3484.

06 Apr 2017

Southern Ocean County Housing Resource Fair

April 12, 2017 from 11:00AM to 2:00PM at the Bay Avenue Community Center in Manahawkin, NJ.

Come to the FREE housing resource fair in Ocean County for New Jersey residents impacted by Superstorm Sandy.  Attendees will have the opportunity to meet one-to-one with housing counselors, developers, landlords, and representatives from other housing support services.

 

Click here to view or download a printable version of this flyer.

29 Mar 2017

Sandy Workshop in Little Egg Harbor

Are you still having issues with your recovery from Sandy?  Come to our upcoming Sandy Recovery Workshop in Little Egg Harbor.  You will learn about the latest issues with RREM (including closeout challenges), flood insurance claim reviews, and contractor disputes / fraud.  Or bring your own questions and issues.  There will be plenty of opportunities for discussion.

Click here to view or download a printable version of this flyer or our April or May-June workshop flyers.  Click here for our calendar of events.

Call now to register! 732-569-3484.

16 Mar 2017

DCA Information Session for RREM, LMI, & LRRP Programs

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Our March 22 Sandy Recovery Workshop has been cancelled to allow people to attend DCA’s recently announced Expanded Information Session on the RREM, LMI, and LRRP Programs.  The event is to be held at the Brick Twp. Municipal Complex on March 22 from 3PM to 7PM.  The OCLTRG will have a table setup at the DCA’s event to provide information and answer questions.  For more details on DCA’s event, please see their event announcement at the reNEW JERSEY Stronger website or download the information the DCA is distributing (English, Spanish).

For details on attending one of the OCLTRG’s upcoming Sandy Recovery Workshops, see our blog post below OR download one of our March, April, or May-June workshop flyers, OR click here for our calendar of events.

15 Mar 2017

Upcoming Sandy Recovery Workshops

UPDATE: The OCLTRG’s March 22 Sandy Recovery Workshop has been cancelled to allow people to attend the DCA’s Information Session on the RREM Program to be held in Brick, NJ at the same date and time.  See notice above for details.

Come to one of our upcoming Sandy Recovery Workshops in your area.  You will learn about the latest issues with RREM (including closeout challenges), flood insurance claim reviews, and contractor disputes / fraud.  Or bring your own questions and issues.  There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion.

Click here to view or download a printable version of our March, April, or May-June workshop flyers.  Click here for our calendar of events.

Call now to register! 732-569-3484.

15 Feb 2017

Come to our Workshop!

27 Jan 2017

Pt. Pleasant contractor accused of $1M Sandy fraud

NEWARK – A father-and-son home improvement company in Point Pleasant bilked dozens of homeowners out of more than $1 million in federal superstorm Sandy relief aid, by taking money for work that was substandard, never performed or abandoned, a civil complaint filed by the state Consumer Affairs Division alleges.

Contractors Paul Zaidinski Sr. and Paul Zaidinski Jr. and their Point Pleasant-based company, Shore House Lifters, are alleged to have engaged in “unconscionable consumer practices’’ that included:

  • Improperly disconnecting water and sewer lines.
  • Improperly repairing a front staircase and spilling concrete on a back deck and driveway.
  • Failing to complete home elevation projects, resulting in some homes failing inspections and preventing the consumers from moving back in.
  • Abandoning home elevation projects while the homes were raised on temporary supports, which deprived consumers of access to their homes for lengthy time periods and required them to finish the work themselves or hire other contractors at additional expense.
  • Failing to provide refunds required by law when consumers with certain Sandy relief funds cancel contracts for failure to start or complete work.

READ: Toms River hotelier jailed 3 years for Sandy scam

The Division of Consumer Affairs received 51 complaints against Shore House Lifters. Of those, 45 were from consumers who lost a total of $1.12 million in federal relief funds, according to the civil complaint filed in Superior Court in Ocean County. There were six complaints from consumers who did not receive  federal Sandy relief aid.

The Consumer Affairs Division also filed a complaint in Atlantic County against George Rex and his Pleasantville-based companies, Atlantic Coast House Lifting and George Rex Construction LLC. That complaint also alleges shoddy or incomplete work, causing six recipients of federal relief to lose $277,100.

EXCLUSIVE: Sandy, home builders and broken promises

The civil complaints bring to seven the number of home improvement contractors charged by the Consumer Affairs Division with committing fraud on victims of Sandy, which ravaged the Shore area in October 2012.

“Long after the floodwaters have receded, we remain committed to holding accountable each and every contractor who financially exploited the victims of this catastrophic storm,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a news release announcing the complaints against the contracting companies.

READ: Poor health means no jail for Sandy fraudster

“With every civil action we file, we are reinforcing the message that we will not allow unscrupulous contractors to prey on New Jersey residents, especially those struggling in the wake of a  natural disaster,” he said.

READ: Suit: Sandy contractor abandoned Sandy jobs

The state is seeking restitution, fees and civil penalties from the contractors named in the complaints, and revocation of their contractor registrations. The state also is seeking to permanently bar the defendants from ever owning or operating home-improvement businesses in the state.

Kathleen Hopkins: 732-643-4202; Khopkins@app.com 

 

http://www.app.com/story/news/local/brick-point-pleasant/point-pleasant-beach/2017/01/26/sandy-fraud-alleged-against-pt-pleasant-contractor/97086052/

13 Jan 2017

House raising, booming since Sandy, a dangerous and expensive industry

    • Property owners along New Jersey’s coast have had their homes raised to avoid flood waters like those that damaged homes during Hurricane Sandy.

      But the home-elevation industry, which became a booming business after the 2012 storm, is wrought with problems, ranging from safety issues to funding delays that put projects on hold and left some homes literally up in the air.

      Before October 2012, home elevation was a niche business, said Steve Hauck, owner of SJ Hauck House Movers in Egg Harbor Township.

      The industry has since swelled, buoyed by federal money and stricter regulations on properties near the water, but house lifting is a dangerous, expensive and cumbersome process.

      Just last month, one of Hauck’s employees, Jonathan Fitzick, 24, of Ocean City, was seriously injured after a house he was lifting in Wildwood partially collapsed.

      The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident, which left Fitzick with a broken leg and head cuts.

      In 2013, OSHA fined a contractor $8,000 for three serious violations after three workers were injured when a house collapsed in Little Egg Harbor Township.

      “It’s definitely safety-sensitive work,” said Tre McAllister, owner of another home elevation contractor, McAllister Building Group in Somers Point. “The insurance that we have to have is so expensive, so that says it all.”

      Another obstacle for contractors and homeowners is dealing with the state agencies that process the federal money allocated for home elevation projects.

      McAllister said about 70 percent of house lifting projects his company does are related to Sandy recovery, and thus eligible for funding through state programs, such as the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation Program.

      Dealing with the program, which is managed by the state Department of Community Affairs, is “awful, absolutely awful,” said McAllister, because of delayed payments and red tape.

      “It’s hard to function as a contractor when you can’t get paid,” said Hauck, who said his company has lifted more than 1,000 homes since Sandy.

      “The way the program was designed — I don’t think it worked the way they envisioned it to work,” he added.

      Susan Marticek agrees. She works with residents affected by the storm as executive director of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group.

      “The state grant was never set up to be the major part of people’s budget,” Marticek said.

      Some homeowners get stuck with their properties hoisted on cribbing for weeks or months, waiting for money to come in and work to be completed.

      “They get stuck in their recovery, and they don’t have enough money to finish their project,” Marticek said. “We’re now in year five, and, for a lot of people, they’re at a breaking point.”

      “I’m fearful we will have a lot of projects that were started but not completed,” she added.

      She also wonders about the safety of having houses on cribbing for long periods of time. Last year, a house on cribbing in Long Island tumbled over while the homeowner was waiting for funding to finish a home elevation project.

      “Your house is very vulnerable when it’s up on that cribbing,” Maticek said. “With the bad storms, everybody gets a little nervous.”

      The application period for RREM ended in 2013, but 2,622 homes are still in the process of being elevated, said Lisa Ryan, strategic communications director for the Sandy Recovery Division of Community Affairs.

      Nearly 2,000 of those remaining projects are in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties.

      “DCA is diligently working to help each of the remaining applicants complete construction and close out of the program,” Ryan wrote in an email to the Press of Atlantic City, adding the department regularly provides support to those enrolled in the program.

      So far, about $336 million has been spent through the program on completing more than 4,000 home-elevation projects.

      McAllister said the state is not always to blame for stalled construction. Sometimes, contractors misuse funds, or homeowners are paid by the state but don’t use the money to pay their contractors, he said.

      Marticek suggested inexperience with major storms may be to blame for problems with house lifting.

      “To me, this is New Jersey’s first time at the rodeo,” she said.

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      Contact: 609-272-7411

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      jtomczuk@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressTomczuk

 

12 Jan 2017

Kane In Your Corner: FEMA clawbacks an added insult to Superstorm Sandy victims

UNION BEACH – Thousands of New Jersey families, their homes damaged or destroyed by Sandy, are now being ordered to repay part of their disaster assistance grants and a Kane In Your Corner investigation Wednesday found the rules determining the paybacks sometimes don’t seem fair. But homeowner advocates say those who get recoupment letters should not automatically repay and sometimes can keep the disputed funds.

Pat Weber’s home in Union Beach looks fine today, but it was a muddy mess immediately after Sandy, flooded by 4 feet of water. With the help of a Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) grant, Weber was able to repair and elevate her home. But in October, the state, acting on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sent her a letter demanding repayment of $32,000 in grant funds. The primary issue: Weber had qualified for “increased cost of compliance” flood insurance, which the government considers a “duplication of benefits.”

Weber considers the clawback unfair. “I paid for [the coverage] for 32 years on [my] flood insurance,” she says, adding that without the ICC funds, “I would not have been able to complete the job.”

It’s a similar story to the one told by Fred Schaffer, of Little Egg Harbor, now being ordered to repay $115,000 in RREM funds. In addition to the grant, he took out a loan from the Small Business Administration. Like Weber, Schaffer insists he needed both to get back in his home.

If that’s true, and both Weber and Schaffer can prove it, they may be able to successfully dispute the clawback effort, federal officials say.

“We’re required to do a duplication-of-benefits check,” FEMA spokesman Bill MacDonald explains. “To make sure there are not two funding sources paying for the same thing.” However, MacDonald says, if a family “can provide receipts that there was no duplication of benefits, then that money would not be recouped.”

Homeowner advocates say many of the issues could have been prevented if federal officials had simply communicated from the beginning.

Many Sandy homeowners “did everything right in life,” says Sue Marticek of the Ocean County Long Term Recovery Group. “They lived, they paid their taxes, their insurance, their flood insurance for decades, and here they are, not able to get through because of the real disaster, and the real disaster is the bureaucracy that happened after.”

Weber, for example, received a RREM grant of only $120,000, less than the maximum. She might have been able to avert the recoupment effort if, instead of accepting $30,000 in supplemental flood insurance, she had simply applied for more grant money.

FEMA’s McDonald admits communication could have been better. “That is a lesson learned,” he says. “We are going to have to improve our outreach”.

But homeowners still take issue with a system in which the government hands out assistance and then asks for it back. “I did what they told me to do,” Weber says. “I should be finished.”