Tracking Housing Recovery in Sea Bright, NJ and the Relationship to Infrastructure Renewal

Download Final Report

CAIT project no.: CAIT-UTC-063

Fiscal Year: 2015/2016

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Sue McNeil, Ph.D., Patrick Szary, Ph.D.

External Author(s): Frank Lawrence, Sea Bright

Sponsor(s): USDOT-FHWA, Borough of Sea Bright


Understanding how a community is recovering from a disaster is critical to being able to make investments in transportation infrastructure. This project is a follow up study to a 2014 study that looked at the recovery process in Sea Bright, New Jersey. While small (both in terms of population and area), Sea Bright is representative of many small coastal communities in the mid-Atlantic.

The survey results documented in this report are based on a survey mailed to Sea Bright residents in late 2015. The results indicate that approximately 83% of the homes of respondents have been repaired or replaced compared with 62% fourteen to seventeen months earlier.

While progress is being made, residents are finding the recovery process lengthy, and complex. Many respondents expressed dissatisfaction with both programs and organizations, and some reported that it is taking on a toll on their health. However, overall, the respondents from Sea Bright show a strong sense of community and attachment to place. The survey results also showed that the demographic profile of the community has not changed, and respondents’ perceptions of risk have not changed significantly.

This project provided an opportunity to resurvey households in the community regarding the status of housing recovery in late 2015. Together the summer 2014 survey data and the late 2015 data are a rich, time series dataset that provide interesting insights into the relationships among households, transportation infrastructure and policy.

The surveys capture the experiences of the households and the community. The timing of this survey is important for several reasons. First, the rate of recovery is very variable in the area; second, anything past a year could miss significant life events; and third, programs for financial support are closing or have undergone changes. Ideally the survey would be repeated every year.

This report documents the data collection process, summarizes the data and provides some comparison with the 2014 data.