Forget about everything you thought you knew about Habitat for Humanity. The nearly quarter of a century old non-profit has long since expanded its mission to the point that they can actually help storm ravaged homeowners at the Jersey Shore.


Coastal Habitat for Humanity is getting ready to launch its Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI), where they will be dispatching hundreds of volunteers starting in February to help repair over 125 Sandy damaged homes belonging to low income families in Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Coastal Habitat Executive Director Maureen Mulligan says they have two programs.

"One is a rehab where we will go in and work with families and replace the sheet rocking perhaps some flooring some weatherization kinds of programs. Those projects usually fall below $10,000."

She says the second, is a reconstruction program that's much bigger and includes work on electrical systems, plumbing and HVAC systems where the average project is $30,000.

When asked when the nonprofit changed its focus? Mulligan says a couple of years ago, Habitat for Humanity expanded its mission to include other ways of helping low income folks, specifically those who owned their own homes where the homes had fallen into disrepair.

She says, "The kinds of problems that end up getting homeowners in trouble with city officials, getting them citations from the town."

That's the genesis of "A Brush with Kindness" working with low income families to repair the outside of their homes such as painting, fixing front porches, etc. That program morphed into something bigger where they were putting in ramps and rails for people with disabilities as well as some weatherization projects.

Mulligan says they're looking for income-eligible families in their region who need help with repairs. She says interested applicants get get a form from their web site as well as their town halls. The web site also list the criteria for repairs.  Applicants can also call their office at 732-974-2422.

She says they're also looking for volunteers.

"We are looking for anybody who wants to come out and help their neighbors rehab their homes. If people have skills that's great we can use them for what we call a Team Leader where they can work with other volunteers and show them how to put in new insulation, how to put up sheet rock ... that kind of thing. If they don't have skills that's fine because we will indeed have these Team Leaders there."

Mulligan says those wishing to volunteer can go to their web site and click "Get Involved" to fill out a volunteer skills form.

Mulligan says they're on the brink of starting. She says they've spent the last ten weeks or so getting ourselves the equipment we need, the staff we need and some of the money that we'll need to move forward and we're looking at starting the actual projects probably around mid-February.

The Coastal Habitat for Humanity region covers from Deal Road in Ocean Township, South through the Manasquan River and everything East of the Garden State Parkway.

Two other New Jersey-based Habitat for Humanity's are also doing similar Sandy repair projects. The Northeast Monmouth County Habitat for Humanity based in Long Branch and the Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity based in Toms River.

Mulligan says the funding comes from a wide range of sources.

"We have grant request out to many organizations. We have received money from Habitat Internatonal. We have received money from young musicians who are hold concerts and are having different kinds of outing where they're raising money. We have individuals who are contributing money but we are actually looking for big grants to help."

They have received in-kind donations like three vehicles from Habitat International, two vans from JCP&L and seven staff members are being paid for through unemployment for the next couple of months. She says all those resources enable them to move forward.

When asked why Habitat for Humanity is fanning out to help repair Sandy damaged homes?

Mulligan says, "Because our mission is to eradicate sub-standard housing from the face of the earth and people who are living in homes that were devastated meet that criteria."