The Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund, a new non-profit hoping to fill an anticipated gap in aid to Hoboken residents in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, was launched officially on Tuesday in the waiting room of Hoboken train terminal.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer, along with the fund’s chairman – former Sen. Bernard Kenny – and board member Scott Delea, spoke at a press conference in the terminal, detailing how the collected funds will be distributed and when.
Hoboken Terminal has been without heat since the storm, and Zimmer pointed out the water line caused by the storm surge from the Hudson River.
Delea, who has been involved in various charity events in town, said the estimated total raised thus far is $250,000. This has come through many fundraising events, donations via the Hoboken Rotary, Paypal donations through a website, and checks sent to the city.
Residents who suffer a net loss of $5,000 or more after other aid is deducted (such as Federal Emergency Management Agency aid) will qualify for Rebuild Hoboken Relief funds.
“We know the need is great, and there is a considerable gap between available funds from FEMA and reimbursement, if any, from insurance.” – Sen. Bernard Kenny
“We are trying to connect those who really need help to those who want to give help, and that’s what Rebuild Hoboken is all about,” said Zimmer. “Right now there are thousands of people out there navigating what I called in Washington D.C, the ‘insurance gauntlet.’”
There is no means testing for the grants, so resident incomes are not a factor. “Everyone is being treated equal according to the formula,” said Kenny. “We are not means testing nor are we making subjective judgment on people’s losses.”
A gala to raise funds for Rebuild Hoboken was announced for Jan. 26, 2013. It will be held at Hoboken Terminal. The gala is still in the development stages, but some are already sharing rumors about celebrities who may be involved.
According to Hoboken Rotary member and Rebuild Hoboken committee chair Chris Mackin, the organizers are trying to coordinate a VIP cocktail party in the waiting room and the main event in the upper terminal. The space has not been used in a long time for an event, and certain variables are still being worked out. Mackin also said that Rebuild Hoboken has started asking companies if they want to sponsor or donate goods for silent and live auctions.
How to apply
Kenny announced that an application is now available online at http://rebuildhoboken.org and paper copies are being mailed out and made available at a resource center currently being opened on First Street. The exact address was not available by press time.
Applications for aid can be mailed to Hoboken Relief Fund, 518 Park Ave., Apt 1R, Hoboken, NJ 07030. The application states that you must have a Hoboken address and a storm-related net loss (minus what is covered by FEMA and other aid) of at least $5,000. Your application must be received by Jan. 20, 2013. Confirmation of receipt of your application will be sent to you by Jan. 22, 2013.
The application will ask for explanations of physical content damage, structural repairs and other miscellaneous expenses.
The size of the initial grant is still to be determined and will be distributed in phases. Phase one will disperse dollars raised by Feb. 1 and be equally divided among the total qualifying applicants. All who qualify will receive the same amount, not to exceed $5,000. Kenny said the committee can reconvene later and make adjustments based on better assessments.
Thanks to others who are helping
Delea also expressed gratitude to many other local grassroots fundraising events which have aided the Rebuild Hoboken Relief Fund. He said there have been over 20 events, including the Hoboken Hair “Cut-a-Thon,” a celebrity bartending event at Village Pourhouse featuring the Manzo brothers from Real Housewives of New Jersey, Hoboken Co-ed Softball’s annual league awards party, which raised close to $2,000, comedy shows, and others.
Businesses including Major League Baseball (MLB), CVS, and Marsh & McLennan Companies also contributed. Delea said he looked upon MLB’s donation as a nod to Hoboken as the birthplace of baseball.
Another heartfelt donation was from Bennett Davis, a businessman in New Orleans who spearheaded a fundraiser to “return the favor” for support received in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Davis played Frank Sinatra music and auctioned an Eli Manning football during a lunchtime fundraiser at his office building. He raised $10,000 for Rebuild Hoboken.
Amanda Palasciano may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.