If FEMA Doesn't Expand Fort Housing, Oceanport Will Take Matters Into Its Own Hands
FEMA is expected to make an announcement on Monday about whether it will open up more units at the fort.
The promise of temporary housing for storm victims at Fort Monmouth is showing signs it will become a reality.
Oceanport borough is reporting that one of its residents received a call from the Federal Emergency Management Agency about relocating to long term temporary housing at the fort. This signals that the wheels are beginning to turn for displaced people, but not fast enough for many, and not for as many as have a need, says Oceanport's mayor.
At its town hall meeting two weeks ago, Oceanport surveyed the needs of its residents and found that 119 were in need of temporary housing. Mayor Michael Mahon called this the "uncounted need" and is hoping his town's survey will convince FEMA to offer up more housing at Fort Monmouth.
And if it doesn't, Mahon said, Oceanport is open to the possibility of subleasing a building at the fort to fulfill the need of its residents and those of the surrounding communities.
"We are going to take care of Oceanport, the Shore Regional sending districts and the Two River community," Mahon told the audience at the town hall. Mahon did not go into detail but would only say, "As things dry up, please know, we are trying to get other things online."
There are no public plans yet to lease a building, but a precedent for temporary leases and sub leases was set with t heArmy owned Sun Eagles Golf Course. There the operator has a one year lease (recently extended six months).
Mahon said that Oceanport sent its survey of needs along to Rep. Declan O'Scanlon, who in turn passed the data to FEMA. "We had a sense that there was a need but now we have a documented need," Mahon said.
Now Oceanport is hoping that FEMA will accept that documented need and expand its offerings beyond the 45 units it is scheduled to open on Dec. 20. According to local and state officials, that expansion could be announced as soon as Monday. If it does, it will mean Oceanport borough will not need to become a landlord to its residents and neighbors.
According to the mayor, in addition to the more than 110 local families displaced from their homes in Oceanport and Sea Bright, there are some 200-250 from the surrounding communities that need temporary housing. This reflects what housing advocates say is the greatest need right now, but a bit of a contrast to FEMA put on its housing report this week.
In separate interviews Mahon and O'Scanlon both stressed the importance of storm victims alerting FEMA to changes in their housing status. If, for instance, a long term stay in a friend's guest room suddenly turns sour, displaced people should call FEMA and register their need.