November visited terrible destruction upon a huge swath of New Jersey’s population. Now that Sandy has departed, we are taking stock of the true extent of the damage. Many think of damage in terms of Shore homes destroyed, boardwalks washed away or wind and water damage in inland locations.
In Mercer County, the effects of wind and water on homes and businesses were substantial. But those were not the only effects. The impact on the near-homeless was immediate and disastrous. The folks we serve tend to be the working poor who struggle just to keep their families together and a roof over their heads. Unforeseen lost work puts them financially underwater. We are seeing unprecedented demand for HomeFront’s services as a result. And we are seeing a different sort of client come through the door: folks we haven’t seen before who work hard and plan ahead but who are out of work and don’t know when they’ll be hired back.
One such example is a hard-working man who reluctantly contacted us last week. Normally, he and his son help could each other out through a rough patch, but since the storm put both out of work, they are desperate. This man’s plea for help came accompanied by a detailed budget of expenses right down to monthly outlay for cleaning products.
By now, we have all seen the dramatic images of the destruction wrought on Shore homes by Sandy. Heart-wrenching as these losses are, there is a difference between Shore homeowners and the near-homeless folks we serve: insurance. Many of the former will be made whole or nearly so, once their claims have been settled.
That is not the case with the man I described above, who has been put out of work by the storm and is facing homelessness. He and others like him are not insured for their reversals of fortune.
Of course, it is far less expensive to act proactively and keep this man in his home rather than try to help him after he has been evicted. We will provide assistance to this gentleman and others, because our pledge at HomeFront is “Storm or no storm, no one is hungry and no one is homeless in Mercer County.” We aim to keep that pledge.