The Bloomberg administration is trying yet again to evict hundreds of vulnerable Hurricane Sandy survivors from hotels, despite the City’s repeated failure to provide genuine help with housing.
In the spring the City first attempted to evict hundreds of people made homeless by Sandy. However, as we wrote back then, our colleagues at the Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit on behalf of the evacuees in hotels, and in May, New York State Supreme Court Justice Margaret Chan issued an injunction blocking the eviction of the displaced families.
Now affected families are again sitting in limbo as they await a decision.
Mireya Navarro reported for the New York Times:
Almost a year after Hurricane Sandy, hundreds of displaced New Yorkers living in hotels face eviction.
Many of them have or are applying for federal rental subsidies, but finding affordable apartments has proved daunting. A few of those still in hotels are homeowners whose houses have not yet been repaired.
As they await the next court decision, advocates for storm victims say that the evacuees have been through enough.
“It is not like they’re saying ‘We’ll just transfer these people to the shelter system, here’s a room for you,’“ said Judith Goldiner, a lawyer at the Legal Aid Society. “What they’re saying is you can go apply,” she said. “These families have been traumatized,” she said. “What they went through during the storm really impacted their ability to function.”
Hundreds of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Sandy came from households with incomes of less than $30,000 a year, applications for government aid showed, and they were left with no home to return to and not enough income to qualify for available apartments.
Some lived in informal arrangements without leases and had difficulties proving their pre-storm addresses. City officials said a small number of people were uncooperative or hard to place because of criminal records and other problems that made them ineligible for whatever housing was available. Some are homeowners unable to move back home.
The way the City has handled Sandy evacuees is not only heartless but ineffective. Helping affected households secure permanent housing would have cost a fraction of the $73 million City officials say they’ve spent on the hotel program.
The Epoch Times’s Genevieve Belmaker also reported on the City’s measure yesterday:
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Michael A. Cardozo, Corp. Counsel for the City said that the end of FEMA funding is grounds for Judge Chan to lift the injunction. Cardozo added that if the hotel program is allowed to end, necessary transitional support would be provided. One form of support being offered is settling people in homeless shelters, but that system is already overburdened.
“It’s unfathomable that the city wants to pull the rug out from under these vulnerable families that were made homeless from [one of] the worst natural disasters to hit the city,” said Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst with the New York City-based Coalition for the Homeless. Markee pointed out that although there is already a record-high of 51,000 people in the shelter system, the real issue is the city’s inaction.
“The city dragged its feet for [nearly] a year to put together housing assistance,” said Markee. “It’s not about whether there’s room in the homeless shelters.”
According to the Coalition, it costs about $3,000 a month to shelter a homeless family. The city has been spending $266 a day for each hotel room.