Reaction: Secondary homeowners mostly on their own following Superstorm Sandy

     Home contents fill the street in Beach Haven West on December 1, 2012. (Photo: thisisbossi via Flickr)

    Home contents fill the street in Beach Haven West on December 1, 2012. (Photo: thisisbossi via Flickr)

    At this week’s “Ready for Next Time? Rethinking the Shore After Sandy?” forum in Tuckerton, the plight of secondary homeowners was a major topic of conversation, Newsworks’ Amy Z. Quinn reported.

    Seconday homeowners who are still dealing with the Superstorm Sandy aftermath say that they “have largely been left to fend for themselves,” Quinn wrote.

    Why? Because assistance is reserved for primary homeowners. 

    From Quinn’s report:

    In some neighborhoods, properties sit untouched and unrepaired, while their owners live elsewhere. It’s frustrating to full-time residents, who fear declining property values.

    But for many middle-class families who own second homes at the Shore, it’s frustrating on their end, too. Insurance settlements are slow and state laws make it difficult dispute inadequate ones. Aid money is largely nonexistent, and since most seasonal residents don’t vote in New Jersey, lawmakers aren’t exactly tripping over themselves to help.

    On Jersey Shore Hurricane News, Quinn’s story drew 157 comments, ranging from zero sympathy for secondary homeowners to full support of their ongoing struggle.

    Here’s what impassioned JSHN commenters had to say. Some of the comments were directed at the first commenter, who wrote that secondary homeowners are wealthy and should not receive assistance. (The responses are uneditied for content.)

    Sympathy for secondary homeowners 

    Sandra Zecca Farro: “Not everyone who owns a second home is rich or owns a boat as [redacted] has ignorantly posted here. We have made huge sacrifices for what we have, have dual incomes (or more) and do without many luxuries to be able to afford property at the Jersey Shore.. It is disgusting how we have not received anything and continue to fight insurance companies, contractors, etc and especially FEMA who will not even answer a question if you identify yourself as a secondary homeowner! I do agree primary homeowners come first.”

    Linda Stewart-Pumphrey: “I am happy that I still have a place to live and house to call home; however, I am still a taxpayer in a shore town and had damage from Sandy. It was as devastating to us to lose what we worked hard for as much as it was for a primary home owner. My family experienced damage in Bergen County from the Hackensack River. They were not displaced and luckily did not lose their homes. They are; however, eligible or a grant for $10,000 to stay in their homes for three years. Second homes down the shore have made the shore what it is today. I am not asking for anything that I don’t deserve. I am just sad that secondary homeowners don’t seem to matter to our governor.”

    Cindy Slowey-Rossini: “[Redacted], my husband and I saved for 28 years to save a down payment for a ‘Shore House’ while raising twins, we both work, pay taxes in 2 NJ towns including school taxes which the kids don’t go to any more, Our house was destroyed! We did have flood insurance but it did not cover contents. My husband did all the electric,plumbing, sheet rock, flooring by himself. It has taken him 11 months and we are only about 80% done. We are middle class and have worked our a$$es off all our lives for our dreams. The government will gives us nothing! Think before you speak…….”

    Karen Miller: “I have said it before and I will say it again, just because a person owns two homes doesn’t make them rich. Like me, many of these small homes at the shore have been passed down trough generations. I was lucky to have no damage, but if I did, I would not be able to fix it. For many others, this “Second Home” is a sorse of income. We are not asking for the world, just a little help.”

    Michelle Novella: “I’m a BHW second home owner and our home was destroyed along with the entire neighborhood..I am saddened to hear of the ignorance by some people believing we should not receive any assistance or help. People in this feed are being so quick to judge one another.. every home has a story.. every situation is a different one.. don’t be to quick to assume … if it wasn’t for the secondary home owners your school systems, police department, and government would not be in the upper brackets that they are today along with the high property value you HAD before the storm.. I think it would be in the best interest to see secondary home owners assisted as well.”

    Barbara Wolf: “We also have a small bungalow built by a great grandfather 75 years ago in Point Pleasant on the water with no mortgage. In 75 years it NEVER flooded. The $2000 flood insurance on top of the $1400 house insurance and $7000 taxes was too much for my 82 year old widowed mother-in-law to pay. So when 2 feet of water invaded the house, family tore it apart, threw out 75 years of belongings and began to build/repair ourselves because we/ she can’t afford contractors. The whole family is in debt because there is no financial help. The worst part is that the rates have all risen so she still can’t afford the insurance- just crossed fingers. Not all second home owners are millionaires. This house holds such dear memories it will never be sold.”

    It’s jealously 

    Daniel Nee: “I sense much of the hatred of secondary homeowners comes out of little more than thinly-veiled jealousy. I’ve experienced the same sort of attitude and resentment even as a full time resident of the barrier island from some people on the mainland, unfortunately. The tired, worn-out sarcastic cracks about oceanfront homes, boats and BMWs are absolutely ridiculous and add nothing to the larger issues-based discussion.”

    You have a primary house. Why should you get help?

    Ron Knepper: “People do realize the entire point of disaster assistance is to just help those people get back into a safe and healthy environment which is why a 2nd home isnt usually considered. Not every circumstance is the same but I’d love to hear why some people feel they deserve help for a 2nd home? If you could afford the upkeep, insurance, etc why not the repairs? Not really talking about actual rental homes, personally I see those as businesses just those for pleasure. Hazard mitigation is one thing but assistance after the fact is different.”

    Laura Miller: “The argument that you pay taxes so you should get assistance for your second home is ridiculous to me and a lot of year round residents. While you are making your phone calls and getting frustrated from your primary residence, our families and neighbors are in the same situation, except they are trying to get answers while living in hotel rooms or friends or families homes. You will be hard pressed to get sympathy on a public forum that has local full time residents reading your posts. Imagine living in a hotel with 2 or 3 kids after you lost EVERYTHING and trying to make life as normal as possible while trying to figure out what the hell your going to do.”

    Debbie Mazurek: “It’s a second home…People NEED their first home. A second home is a luxury! Not a right, not for others who pay taxes just barely scraping by on their first home to help someone with their Luxury. My God, what kind of society have we become!”

    Bill Goodwin: “i’ve lived in jersey my whole life. those ‘second home owners’ are looked at in an even worse manner than we look at the shoobies. tell them to complain to someone else. they don’t need aid for ANYTHING if they’re sitting dry some place across the country in their even bigger house they have guts for even opening their mouths about it let alone asking for help.”

    Pamela Martin: “If you live in a flood zone, you should have flood insurance. If you didn’t have flood insurance, building and contents, my taxpayer dollars should not be used to fix your problem. That was our choice, and your responsibility. Also, I have little sympathy for secondary homeowners, when primary homeowners were put out of their homes for six months or more. Secondary homeowners have no idea what that feels like. All aid should go to provide basic needs. No more than that.”

    Sarah Ponton: “Our taxpayer money shouldn’t be going to help fix someone’s VACATION home. Sorry.”

    I pay full municipal taxes for a second home 

    Timoteo Sulebhain: “I understand that people don’t feel bad for those of us lucky enough to have a second home, and that is fair. What I don’t understand is why you want me to pay full property tax for a second home. I clearly send my children to the district of my primary home. My home sits vacant 9 months out of the year, so I don’t use any of your municipal services for 75% of the year, and arguably don’t use them the 25% I am in town. I would like to see primary residents helped first as well, but when the dust settles, I think a lot of “full time residents” are going to miss the lost tax money that is free money to the town from the second homeowners, like myself who take so little from the town, and yet contribute financially so much.”

    What about the renters?

    Stephanie Orem Tkach: “All I see is homeowners getting help. What about renters? So many folks rent our their secondary homes, seasonally. What about the people living in them? What about the low income families in the motels? They had nothing and have even less now. It sucked for everybody there and still does. Renters dont seem to be getting much of anything though. Its sad so much money was raised to help but nobody seems to be getting the help they need!!”

    Julie Sovinski Loftus: “My renter got nothing. And she lost things and she didn’t have a place to live. No one helped her.”

    Chris Wirth: “renters insurance DOES NOT cover floods. so renters have no insurance to protect themselves. and before anyone says “then don’t rent, just buy”. its a lot harder than you think. some people cant afford the downpayment, or their credit isn’t good enough, or maybe they moved out of their parents house and want to live on their own. theirs a lot of reasons why people rent but to say sorry to the renters you lost all your possessions and lost your “house” (where they live) and get no help or get a pathetic ‘renters assistance’ help to live somewhere farther away from work doesn’t always help the problem.” 

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