City Plans to Evict 300 Sandy Survivors
Following a recent court decision, the City announced its plan to stop payment for 300 victims of Hurricane Sandy still living in hotels, starting tomorrow. On Wednesday, the Coalition for the Homeless, with the Legal Aid Society, New York Communities for Change, Councilmember Donovan Richards and other members of the City Council called on the city to extend these hotel stays, in an effort to keeps these families stable until they are able to move safely into secure permanent housing — many of the housing vouchers have just been received — or finish repairs to their homes.
From the rally’s Press Release:
The Bloomberg Administration’s plan is both bizarre and counterproductive,” said Mary Brosnahan, President & CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless. “ It’s outrageous for City officials to kick Sandy victims out on to the street, when many evacuees are still waiting for City agencies to secure the permanent housing they’ve already qualified for. Perhaps the most Kafkaesque turn is that now Bloomberg officials are asking Sandy victims, who they are forcing to move into homeless shelters, to go through their rigorous application process – to establish that they are homeless! In a nutshell, the City is making hundreds of Sandy victims literally homeless and now forcing them to prove who they are, despite the fact that the City knows all too well who these families are and exactly why they are now homeless.
“It makes no sense in either fiscal or human terms to end City disaster relief assistance for Sandy evacuees who are about to relocate to permanent housing and are so close to finally regaining stability after the trauma of the last eleven months following the storm. Instead of making these Sandy survivors reapply for City shelter from another Department of Homeless Services program, they should be permitted to stay where they are so they can transition to permanent housing that is available to them. For those families and individuals who do not yet have permanent housing that they are about to move into, the City should not bounce them among an alphabet soup of City programs by putting them out of the evacuation hotels onto the streets and then sending them to apply for shelter in offices of the Department of Homeless Services. These Sandy evacuees have suffered enough since last October and since some families and individuals still need temporary shelter, it is incumbent on the City to relocate them directly from the evacuation hotels to a Department of Homeless Services shelter,” said Steven Banks, the Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society which has been representing the Sandy evacuees along with pro bono counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.
For many families, the threat of being relegated to the shelter system is overwhelming. As reported on CBS New York:
Desiree Marino, a retired NYPD officer, was flooded out of her home in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn by Sandy.
She’s been living in the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan since the Oct. 29 storm hit.
“We got an eviction notice under the door on Saturday night for 11 a.m. on Friday morning, Oct. 4,” she said. “We either can stay there at our own cost at the hotel or we can find, with the letter they provided for us, what shelters that we were allowed to go and travelourselves with all of our belongings. We’re living out of garbage bags.”
In another report by ABC News:
At the press conference, Carol Hefty, 73, said her flooded-out home in Staten Island was on its way back to being livable, but still needed to have appliances connected and other last bits of reconstruction. She has been living in a hotel in Staten Island since the storm, and says she doesn’t have any place to go if the eviction takes place because her children live in other states. She said she was asking for another three or four weeks.
“I’m doing everything right now not to cry,” she said.
City Councilmember Donovan Richards Jr. said that with the anniversary of the storm and the holiday season approaching, “there is no reason we shouldn’t do what’s right for the people of New York City.”
At a time when the New York City shelter system is bursting at the seams with 51,000 men, women and children bedding down each night, now is simply not the time to allow those who have already seen the devastation of Hurricane Sandy to once again face the trauma of entering the bureaucratic shelter system.