Homeless Again: Housing Vouchers Expire for Some Sandy Victims

Homeless Again: Housing Vouchers Expire for Some Sandy Victims

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A victim of Sandy prepares to move out of a hotel room in Wildwood, New Jersey. A victim of Sandy prepares to move out of a hotel room in Wildwood, New Jersey.
WILDWOOD, N.J. -

Dozens of victims displaced by Hurricane Sandy have been told their FEMA temporary housing vouchers have expired. It means FEMA is no longer paying for their hotel rooms where they've been staying since November.

The word came this weekend to some of the 200 people who were bussed to three Wildwood hotels when their homes were damaged by the storm.

"I've lost all my furniture. All I have is what's here," said Brian Sotelo of Toms River.

Sotelo, along with this wife and three kids, spent his last day at The Days Inn packing up a moving truck heading to Jacksonville, Florida to stay with family. Sotelo says the family has no other choice since rental home prices in Toms River have skyrocketed.

"We can't afford to live here any more with everything that's going on." he said.

FEMA extended temporary housing benefits to more than 1,100 people in New Jersey. But dozens we spoke with say their vouchers expired on Friday.  A spokesman could not tell us why some were extended and some were denied.

"I can't understand why we can't have just a little more time" said Brian Polhaumus of West Wildwood. His rental home also suffered major damage. Since he is unemployed he will now try to stay with friends or family, but nothing is definite.

The Wiegman family from Seaside Heights has been living out of a hotel room since November 6th. The family was one of the lucky ones since they received a housing extension for another two weeks.

"It's stressful, the nerves, all week long, scared, the insomnia, the worrying, the praying..wondering if we'll be living under the boardwalk" says Jackie Wiegman.

"Somebody has to help us in Wildwood. They forgot about us here. And that's sad" said Debbie Wiegman.

Although hotels won't get reimbursed by FEMA for those who do not have vouchers, owners of hotels like The Days Inn and The Bolero Resort say they'll be letting victims stay a few nights.

"They're pretty much desperate. Really I think they've forgotten them here" says Bolero Resort owner Wally Lerro.

A FEMA spokesman says transitional housing, like hotels are meant as an assistance program not a solution. They say help is available to victims to find more permanent housing at FEMA.gov.

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