Sandy Evacuees Rally for Better Conditions and a Long-Term Affordable Housing Plan

“My heart has a wide hole in it,” said Isaiah Douglas, a 9-year-old boy who is now living in a hotel with his family after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy. He, along with many other displaced families, rallied on the steps of City Hall yesterday to bring attention to dangerous conditions for some evacuees placed by the City and to demand a long-term affordable housing plan. Even now, three months after the storm, thousands of evacuees remain displaced and in need of affordable housing assistance.

Coalition for the Homeless joined these families and other groups, such as the Legal Aid Society and New York Communities for Change to demand immediate action from the City:

“There are a few things that the city could immediately do. The first and foremost is to move families from unsafe and unsanitary working conditions that we have seen at some of these evacuee hotels. The second is to provide immediate need services like food and transportation. And the last and most important is to work on a long term housing solution.”

City Council members tried to get answers from City officials at a public hearing later yesterday afternoon, but unfortunately didn’t get very far. Department of Homeless Services commissioner Seth Diamond continued to assert that food needs for all evacuee families have been met, even as testimony from the families themselves contradicted this claim. Additionally, there was little mention of the long-term housing plan for these families, many of whom are struggling to survive on extremely low incomes.

As the City is now working on a plan to distribute billions of dollars in federal aid, it is critical that extremely low-income individuals and families are not left out of the mix.