TOMS RIVER - The opening of new application center for the state's Sandy recovery voucher program was celebrated today in Toms River.
Gov. Chris Christie paid a visit to the new facility to draw attention to the program. "We never are going to have enough money to make everybody whole," Christie says. "That's the sad fact of the decisions that Congress made and the President in terms of money allocated to us."
Christie says he wants to make sure every dollar gets used. He says the Toms River facility will help make that happen by allowing more people take advantage of the program.
MORE: Sandy Coverage
Carla Beauchamp says her husband lost his job after the storm. "He took a job as a custodian after Sandy, which is a blessing, we're grateful, but it doesn't cover the mortgage," she says, "We go back and forth paying utilities and the mortgage and we're behind."
Workers at the new office, run by non-profit company Ocean Inc., say they've been open about a week, and are taking applications now. The vouchers don't put cash in hand, but can be used to pay bills like mortgage or rent, or for household items.
The need clearly remains in areas like Toms River where the local food pantry helps more than 6,000 people a month. Advocates say its time to cut the red tape. "I'm hearing about people who apply for programs and when they call up to make the appointment, they're given a date in May. And its February," says food pantry operator Pat Donaghue. "What do they going do from now until May?"
There is $40 million still left in the program. Applications can be filed from any county in New Jersey but the paperwork is extensive.
For the complete news conference, watch the clip to the left or click News 12 Extra on Optimum TV channel 612.