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New Report on Long-Term Recovery of Rental Housing after Superstorm Sandy Identifies Policy Reforms Needed to Assist Displaced Low-Income Renters

NLIHC researchers undertook a qualitative and quantitative case study focused on recovery programs and outcomes in coastal communities hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. The key findings led to recommendations for ensuring a more equitable recovery for low-income families impacted by such disasters.

Washington, DC - The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released today “Long-Term Recovery of Rental Housing: A Case Study of Highly Impacted Communities in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.” The report shows a loss of low-income rentals and gentrification in heavily impacted communities. The study highlights the limited targeting of recovery funds for renters with the lowest incomes, the need for long-term rental assistance given the extended recovery time needed for multifamily housing, and potential recovery challenges for landlords of small rental properties.

Superstorm Sandy hit New Jersey particularly hard with storm-surge flooding, wind damage, and power outages. NLIHC’s report examines the recovery of rental housing in Atlantic, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. The report concludes that, although we need to learn more about landlord decisions, motivations and needs after disasters, we can implement programs and policies now to ensure the recovery of low-cost affordable rental housing and equitable assistance to low-income renters when disasters strike.

Some of the points highlighted in the report are the need for post-disaster rental assistance for longer than two years given the length of time required for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable multifamily housing; the need to prioritize displaced renters in housing developed or substantially rehabilitated with recovery money; and the need for supplemental deep subsidies for developments that set aside rental units for extremely low-income renters. Other key findings and recommendations include:

  • A number of heavily-impacted communities have lost a significant portion of their lowest-cost affordable rental housing since Superstorm Sandy.
  • States and local municipalities should consider rental registries that include location, number of units, and owners to reliably identify rental properties, including single-family homes and small multi-unit properties, for both pre- and post-disaster planning.
  • Private landlords of low-cost rental housing may be unable or unwilling to repair or rehabilitate their properties as affordable rental housing after a disaster. Ensuring an adequate supply of subsidized affordable housing before a disaster could minimize the displacement of low-income renters after a disaster.
  • Small rental properties were lost from some communities’ housing stock. Future research should aim to better understand the needs, market incentives, and behaviors of small-scale landlords during recovery.

“The lowest-income renters face a significant shortage of affordable rental homes even in the best of times. This shortage is further exacerbated by disasters. At the same time, federal recovery funds tend to disproportionately benefit homeowners over renters,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “To prevent the displacement of extremely low-income renters, we must make policy changes to ensure renters, especially those with the lowest incomes, are not forgotten and are treated equitably before and after disasters strike.”

The “Long-Term Recovery of Rental Housing: A Case Study of Highly Impacted Communities in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy” report is available at:


About NLIHC: Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, the National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to achieving socially just public policy that ensure people with the lowest income in the United States have affordable and decent homes.

About DHRC: NLIHC led coalition of more than 850 national, state, and local organizations, including many working directly with disaster-impacted communities and with first-hand experience recovering after disasters.