Taking action to provide immediate and emergency repairs to return families to their homes and secure structures from additional damage this winter, Governor Chris Christie today announced the implementation of FEMA's Sheltering and Temporary Essential Power (STEP) Pilot Program in the 5 New Jersey counties. Through the program, homeowners can apply through their municipalities for eligible repair work on residences, including electrical meter repairs, shelter essential measures, and rapid temporary exterior repairs to make their homes safe and habitable again, as permanent home repairs are sought. Qualified work will be administered and contracted through local municipal governments in coordination with FEMA, with federal-municipal cost-share of 75/25 available for expenses up to $10,000.
"Nearly four weeks after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, there are many residents who remain displaced from their homes because of a lack of heat, hot water, or the ability to accept electricity. Under the STEP program, we will be able to make emergency temporary repairs to homes to make them safe and habitable, prevent additional damage during this winter season, and allow even more families to return to their homes while longer-term repairs are arranged," said Governor Christie. "We have made great strides since the height of the storm in restoring utility service and getting people back in their own residences, and this program will allow us to continue that work for those families facing these last hurdles to returning home."
Program implementation in Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex Counties follows a formal request made to FEMA by the Christie Administration, which includes an implementation plan and specific conditions for implementation for the state. These steps and conditions include a process to identify applicants and residences, securing of Right of Entry permissions for work to occur on a homeowner's property, a residential assessment to determine the scope and feasibility of emergency repair work to occur, the temporary repair work itself, and inspections of electrical repairs prior to power restoration. Only residential properties are eligible for STEP program work, and all work must be done within 60 days of approval and submission of Right of Entry permission. Expansion beyond these 5 initial counties will be evaluated in the future as need is identified.
The STEP pilot program is one tool being used by New Jersey to help displaced residents secure housing, by assisting qualified homeowners make the repairs needed to get back into their own homes. The state continues to work closely with FEMA to explore housing alternatives and secure placement for displaced residents.
The letter from the Governor's Authorized Representative to FEMA outlining STEP implementation in New Jersey [pdf 140kB].
The three categories of eligible repair work are further defined below and include the following work:
Residential Electrical Meter Repairs - Residential Electrical Meter Repair is intended to accelerate power restoration to residences with storm-damaged electrical meters when such repairs are a necessary and essential condition precedent to a utility company re-energizing a qualified residence.
Shelter Essential Measures -- Shelter Essential Measures are intended to provide electricity, heat, and hot water to disaster-impacted residences to meet basic life-sustaining needs so that occupants may shelter-in-place until more permanent repairs can be made.
Rapid Temporary Exterior Repairs -- Rapid temporary exterior repairs are intended as necessary and essential assistance to protect storm-damaged residences from further damage that may present an immediate threat to life and property, and where appropriate, facilitate sheltering-in-place pending repairs that are more permanent.
Complete STEP program guidance from FEMA can be found on the FEMA website here: http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=6709.