New Jersey homeowners getting money to raise houses

July 23, 2013 5:43:46 AM PDT
About 2,700 New Jersey homeowners will get federal grants to elevate their homes situated near flood-prone waterways.

Gov. Chris Christie announced the grant program Monday in a visit to a Brick Township neighborhood where all the homes are on lagoons.

Homeowners will be reimbursed up to $30,000 each. Priority will be given to residents who live in a flood plain and those whose homes were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Income is not a factor, but only single-family homes and primary residences are eligible under the federal guidelines.

"This is an important step in making us stronger than the storm, Christie said, repeating the state's tourism tagline. "Those who are most in need will be taken care of first."

Home elevation costs could reach $75,000 or more, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. Some smaller homes could be raised for a lot less.

The grants are the latest federal assistance to be announced in New Jersey. The most generous is up to $150,000 to help rebuild homes, including raising those homes to higher levels. Residents can apply for both types of grants, but would be allowed to use only one.

Residents who live in a flood plain but do not elevate their homes can expect to pay higher flood insurance premiums.

Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Richard Constable said the administration expects high demand from homeowners seeking the funds and that grant applications will be accepted through Sept. 15.

Christie said a new round of funding would be available in the fall.

The governor also told residents that it will take another 18 months to two years to recover from the storm that battered the Jersey coast last Oct. 30. About 365,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, there were dozens of deaths and more than half the state was plunged into darkness.

With the next round of federal funding, New Jersey will focus on strengthening its infrastructure, including its power grid, the governor said.