CCUSA: Advocacy, Rental Assistance and Encouragement for Sandy Survivors

This article was published by Catholic Charities USA, the umbrella organization that unites and serves Catholic Charities agencies across the country.

15830956773_49266e97db_kWhen Esperanza and Patrick learned that their Superstorm Sandy-damaged home would have to be elevated and rebuilt after they had already repaired it, they were beyond discouraged. But a case manager at Catholic Charities in Camden, New Jersey, elevated their sprits, advocating for them, securing rental assistance and encouraging them throughout the process.

For nearly two years following Superstorm Sandy, Esperanza and Patrick lived in a rental while their home was being repaired. They moved back into their home in the summer of 2014, only to find out that their home would need to be elevated to meet new flood insurance requirements. The home would need to be demolished and completely rebuilt, and they would have to move out once again.

The couple was eligible for assistance from the state of New Jersey’s elevation grant program to elevate and reconstruct their home, but as a low-income couple, they could no longer afford to rent. They had exhausted all of their FEMA resources and other state aid programs. To see what could be done, the elevation grant program put Esperanza and Patrick in touch with Catholic Charities in Camden.

Catholic Charities advocated for the couple and through the Salvation Army obtained rental assistance for the previous six months and from then on until the end of construction. Throughout the process of elevating their home, their case manager, Aimee, worked with the couple, advocating for them and encouraging them that there would be light at the end of the tunnel.

“Aimee comforted us when we were depressed. She was there all the time, saying ‘There’s hope, don’t worry,’” Esperanza said. “It’s been a big help.”

Esperanza and Patrick are now living in their newly rebuilt home, where Esperanza continues to care for Patrick’s acute medical needs.