Monmouthy County has $9.5M in Sandy Housing Funds


The Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP), is administered by the Monmouth County Division of Planning and Contracting, will fund up to $15,000 worth of eligible expenses for Sandy impacted households, like outstanding mortgage payments, utility bills, household items and more. Municipalities will apply then act like vendor management company.

Middletown Township and Atlantic Highlands were one of the first municipalities to apply for the program after applications were made available on Oct. 7. Funds are expected to be released as soon as the end of the year.  The program ends in September 2015.

Municipalities interested in participating in the program have to submit a detailed application packet to the county by Oct. 30.

SHRAP is a “different animal” than other Sandy grant programs, as it will essentially require towns to act as vendors for the various services residents apply for. No money goes to the individuals or families. So how it would work is a resident would come in to the municipality and say  ‘I can’t make my mortgage payment next month.’ The town would make the mortgage payment. Next month, they come back — same thing. As soon as you hit that $15,000, you’re done. That’s one possible scenario.”

County officials invited interested municipalities to participate in an informational session on the program in Freehold on Oct. 15, where specific eligibility requirements and other details were expected to be discussed.

Sounds pretty good right? Oh yeah Highlands isn’t on the list yet. I don’t see on the HIghlandsnj.com web site as a public notice and they aren’t on the County web site as a participating municipality.

All I can think of is Frank Nolan in his interview with John Schneider on Blog Radio “Honestly, I don’t feel overwhelmed since Sandy” and “I’m a Leader” – Frank.. a Leader would make sure Highlands was in the mix for all and any grants like these.  As far as him not feeling overwhelmed since Sandy, the only thing that comes to mind is Monty Python and the Black Knight. No arms and legs and wanting the bite King Arthur’s knee caps off, “I’m invincible!” he shouts, King Arthur looks back at him and says “You’re a looney”  Seriously how can anyone *not* feel overwhelmed, and if that’s true, is that whats preventing him to go after Grants because he thinks no one else is overwhelmed?

My other thought was Becky’s interview on Youtube – all smiles talking about “We don’t need a grant writer, we have a grant writer.” Then went on to talk about the procurement of the Fire Truck. Hmmm…     Firetruck — or helping residents keep paying their mortgage, Firetruck — or helping residents keep paying their mortgage.. How the hell did Firetruck win if we had to choose which grant to go for?? And before you literal people comment that we got the fire truck before the grant came along, I understand it, but it shows why “we do need a grant writer” or at least someone who is going to read the memo’s and take the initiative to go after this stuff.

This kind of stuff has been happening since Sandy.. well it probably happened before Sandy, but since Sandy was such a crap sandwich, it just shined a spotlight on the priorities (or lack thereof)  and ineptness of our current leadership. Of course the flip side is; ok we “got” the money, who will disperse the $15,000 allotment ?  HBP, Hope for Highlands, tax assessor, Solution Center, Tim Hill? How do we ensure this money would not go to the inside select few who would obviously find ways to exhaust these funds quickly.

Heavy sigh.

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41 comments

  1. I take issue with your post. At no point does Becky say “We don’t need a grant writer, we have a grant writer.” I just went back and listened again to the virtual debate. What she does say is that currently the town has been using in house grant writers and the services of T & M. I know that Becky has been supportive of efforts to get other grant writers on board and I think that is true of all of the people running for Mayor.

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    1. I paraphrased.. When asked about if we need grant writers she said “We do have grant writers, Dave Parker …. and Tim Hill”, Indicating that she thought we didn’t need grant writers because we already had them. Anything I’ve heard has not indicated she supported hiring a professional grant writer. Actually this is a show me the money moment , if she was sooo supportive one would have been brought on board last Jan/Feb/march, not just supported weeks before the election. Actions do speak louder than words.

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  2. A number of us have volunteered to help search out the grants and I personally was told it “wasn’t needed and that we have applied for all the grants” Carol Bucco brought up the question of “why aren’t we on any of the grant lists” at a borough council meeting months ago when the meeting was held at PTAK towers and did not receive an answer from anyone on the council. The borough council is inept and only concerned about itself and a select few as evidenced by the lack of any help,funding or grants to anyone in our town. Time for a change…

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    1. We have also been told at other council meetings that they can’t tell us what’s been applied for because some of the grants require that they not publicize that they applied.

      Yeah. Really.

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    2. Your right. At the least they should have a grants review committee, composed of experienced grant writers to help them. I would volunteer.

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      1. Why the thumbs down? It would make sense to have a review committee. Right now we have HBP applying for grants, council members, Tim Hill, T&M, two new hires coming on board – one through FEMA and one through the town. Someone should be coordinating these efforts and just reviewing what is happening – maybe they can offer help as well. This could be helpful, no?

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  3. And just WHO are the “in house grant writers ?” Are they qualified to actually prepare a request for grants? Fair Haven has a full time professional grant writer employed by the town and he has been extremely successful in getting a number of grants. Have our multiple “in house grant writers” gotten ANY grants? If so please tell us what grants have been secured to benefit the town people.

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    1. Oh I agree that the Council needs help with this. By the way, I just pulled the RFP for the above grant. No way would the municipality be able to qualify for this. This award is to social service agencies. I may be wrong but it doesn’t seem to be targeted to municipalities. One thing to not is that one of the express factors is that whoever the administrative bodies are the actual grants must be made available to all Monmouth County residents – so if an agency in Atlantic Highlands gets an administrative contract the actual grants are open to everyone including Highlands residents. Now if Highlands had a non-profit housing trust that trust could bid to administer these grants. It might also be possible for Highlands Housing Authority to bid on this program but they seem to be solely focused on Ptak Towers and Jenny Parker.

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      1. Reading the grant qualification I just don’t see how our town could apply,

        From the RFP Applicant Eligibility Requirements
        1. Public, profit, and not-for profit organizations that have demonstrated experience working with the homeless and those experiencing housing instability in Monmouth County may submit applications.
        2. An applicant must submit a properly completed application by the required deadline, in order to be considered for funding.
        3. An applicant must agree to provide services to any eligible Monmouth County resident regardless of that person’s national origin, race, creed, sexual orientation, ability to pay or physical or other disability.

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          1. Demonstrated experience working with the homeless and those experiencing housing instability? Highlands may have these problems but the municipality has no experience dealing with them…. something I have bemoaned for a long long time.

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      2. Tim Hills was kind enough to return a phone call I made asking ‘Is Highlands applying? and if they need help meeting the deadline. ‘. Tim stated the RFP is very competitive with a criteria of an established case management and the ability to hit the ground running with the structure and implementation of the program if the grant is feceived. That’s one reason the social service agencies have made the cut list and they can apply with interests of serving Highlands. Unfortunately we do not have a functioning Case Management system in Highlands – and the Robin Hood Grant has not been able to hit the ground running. Making it more difficult is that there is no centralized data base interfacing with all the agencies and non-profits out there – and each seem to have their own in- take process which become confidential. So even if Highlands could submit this RFP under the Housing Authority umbrella we would be hard pressed to pull off the Case Management element that needs to be in place to even be considered as a recipient.

        If anyone can think out of the borough hall box here and possibly offer some suggestions as to what is already established locally (but not on our town’s Rolodex so to speak) the town could surely use your qualified input. We have approved committee projects in Housing from our FEMA Recovery process that addressed the need for a data base case management function, but that ‘Plan’ is not in motion. Maybe that can be an option if established quickly … But the hit the ground running criteria is still a major stumbling block . Any ideas on how we can connect the dots on this one? As other posts mentioned we have qualified people that can handle the RFP. The deadline is October 30th. btw those social service agencies will qualify and Highlands will be under their umbrella … So we would not be totally left out. It would just be better if it focused only on Highlands residents.

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        1. Has anyone spoken to Sarah, the town’s Robin Hood grant person? She seems to know a lot about this type of thing. Maybe she has some ideas.

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          1. You know if they only asked for help earlier maybe we could have these things in place already. So many people want or have tried to help… It’s a shame! Sarah is extremely nice,smart women. Mr Hill seems like very nice man way over his head for navigating this major grant system.

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        2. Doug – Thanks for verifying this. As I thought Highlands would not be eligible for this grant. I suspect that Atlantic Highlands (even if they apply for the grant) will also not qualify. I agree that a Highlands oriented group might be able to apply. Maybe the Seabright Center? … but I imagine it will end up being the Affordable Housing Alliance who gets this grant.

          Now it would be good to check on the other grant that people are saying Highlands missed out on! I seem to remember that it was only for towns that had taken FEMA loans and had budget gaps … not sure where Highlands is/was with that.

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  4. Just like residents are encouraged to apply for anything/everything the municipality should be putting in for every grant available. You can’t get anything if you never apply. All they can say is we do not qualify but may qualify if…..
    If I remember correctly Becky said using In house grant writer like for fire dept. grant which is fine to have a well equipped fire dept., especially with the dangerous conditions some homes are in. But she said if we need more we would ask T & M. T & M is engineering firm not professional grant writers. I don’t get it….every town from Seaside to Union beach are getting grants EXCEPT HIGHLANDS! How in the world is that acceptable…who is dropping the ball here? As far as I’m concerned it starts with 1st in command and 2nd in command. That would be Mayor Nolan and Head of Council Becky Kane. Sorry but that is just the truth…… I’m actually sad and disappointed to say they failed their residents.

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    1. Doing a grant application takes time and effort. Applying for a grant that you are not eligible for is a waste of time. In the past T&M has done grant applications – mostly the ones that have to do with paving roads, etc. I think no one is denying that a better job could be done.

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      1. I have no idea if we would of qualified but you know who would know? A professional grant writer. T & M are not professional grant writers cause they put in for paving a road, they haven’t been able to deal with our flooding problems and that is their supposed “expertise”. Yes I’m quite aware the time and effort it takes to try and get grants as does every resident that needs to rebuild and lift their homes in this town but we go through the painstaking process even if with the possibility of being denied as it’s worth the time and effort that we just might hear yes. Seams many other town found not just this grant but many others worth the time and effort and guess what it was.

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        1. I’m not disagreeing with you. I was only trying to clarify T& M’s role. Everyone seems to agree that we need better grant writing.

          As far as this particular program – No one knows if an application for this particular program was or is worthwhile as no awards have been made. Besides it is a grant application to be administrators for a county-wide program so your ability to access the program and grants through the program are (in theory) not impacted by who the administrators are!

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      1. Stacy it doesn’t matter, you will see us all voting and can take a lucky guess who all us are. We will be the ones with the courage that have been trying to do the right thing by our community and make change in positive direction. Did it ever cross your mind that people might want to be anonymous due to the cronyism and possible retribution by the people who don’t want to hear us. Hold up permits,inspections etc…not like Mayor answering our calls.
        Get over it! You didn’t seem to care who people were when they stood up when council & mayor were insensitive having meeting on a jewish holiday?

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    1. Why are you so hostile about our screen names? Yes, you use a “real name” but I could just as easily register as “Also Stacey.”

      Would your opinions be any different if we all chose random names out of the baby names dictionary?

      Also, how does your comment add to the discussion as to how to get this money into the hands of the Highlands residents?

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  5. After reading this I feel like I am getting screwed over again. The ignorance of our so called leaders is dragging us all down, and they are holding our heads under water.

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    1. Katie, I posted this earlier:

      It looks like the answer is go to to Atlantic Higlands, or some other town that gets awarded these funds, and apply through them. From what I’ve read in this post and comments the funds aren’t for that specific town that receives them.

      Perhaps someone that has more knowledge about this particular grant can confirm or deny my assumption.

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  6. Okay I recommend people look up http://pallone.house.gov/press-releases pages 1-17 as it contains News releases announcing millions of dollars of Sandy recovery grants given to communities up and down the coastline to pretty much every town BUT Highlands. This man shows up in this town for every event and takes pictures with our local officials but Highlands other than Fire Dept grant has received ZERO to help in our recovery. What is up with that? We have lost out on sooooo much already, something very wrong going on here.

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  7. Rather than speculate, I e-mailed all of the counsel people. Mr. Nolan replied to me this afternoon and he said, “We have been in the process of applying for this since well before your email. The borough of Highlands has been approached by the county. Our administrator has a meeting planned with a liason this week. The deadline is the end of the month which we will be well ahead of the deadline.” So I thanked him and told him I’d pass the word along. So here it is!

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    1. That’s strange since Tim Hill seemed to have different answer when Mr Card contacted him just a few days ago? Glad to hear that but this is one of many important recovery grants of which deadlines i’m sure long gone.

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  8. Why or why can’t there be a simple database accessible to the public that shows grants applied for, purpose, amount, deadline, who is responsible for ensuring grant gets applied for in a timely manner, and status update. Oh wait, it would actually require communication, technology, transparency and accountability!

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    1. Well, there is, to some extent. I’m not entirely sure what this includes — I believe it is purely Federal funding — but there are still some enormous gaps between what Highlands as a borough has received versus some of its neighbors. Perhaps someone with better accountancy skills than mine can make better heads/tails of it.

      http://nj.gov/comptroller/sandytransparency/funds/

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      1. I think she meant internally what grants Highlands have applied for if any but interesting info:
        Atlantic Highlands municipality that was not as devastated as Highlands 19.07 million with Highlands at 1.5 million
        Union Beach 11.64 million
        Seabright 5.84million
        Keansburg 3.85 million
        Rumson 3.8 million
        Middletown 16.26 million
        Pretty damn big gaps!

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    2. When I apply for any sort of money (grant, rebate, etc) I have a tickler file and a system to follow up should I not receive said money by the promised date. Someone in our government, maybe Steve Pfeffer, must have one. Wouldn’t the town need to know what was applied for, the potential range of the award, the target date of the announcement of recipients and the the expected date to receive funds?

      We’re talking potentially MILLIONS of dollars in cash flow. Someone must know what that cash flow potential is. If not then things in this town are worse than I thought.

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