UPDATE: Court Orders Relief for Sandy Survivors Facing Hotel Evictions—Extended to May 15th
UPDATE: Today NY State Supreme Court Justice Magaret Chan extended her temporary order protecting Sandy survivors in hotels from eviction by the City. The injunction is extended until May 15th, and a hearing will be held two days before that to decide what will happen to Sandy survivors after the 15th. All in all, a significant victory for vulnerable families who were facing arbitrary eviction to the streets!
In a significant victory, a New York State Supreme Court justice ordered the City to hold off from evicting hundreds of families displaced by Hurricane Sandy from hotels. But the legal fight continues.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the injunction protecting Sandy survivors facing the Bloomberg administration’s arbitrary April 30th hotel evictions:
A judge on Monday temporarily blocked the city’s plan to end a program in which hundreds of people displaced by superstorm Sandy have been sheltered for months in hotel rooms paid for by the city.
The suit, filed on behalf of five storm evacuees by the Legal Aid Society, said the city created the program to provide shelter “until permanent, safe and sustainable housing” was found, but has failed to provide the evacuees enough help to find new places to live. The city wanted to shut down the program as planned on Tuesday for 196 households living in the hotels.
The Legal Aid Society lauded Justice Chan’s order.
“We’re obviously thrilled our clients are not going to be rendered homeless,” Judith Goldiner, an attorney with the society. “We were hearing from hotels that they were going to move people out tomorrow, so we’re happy we can give these vulnerable Sandy evacuees more time to find more permanent housing situations.”
The lawsuit, supported by the Coalition for the Homeless, said the refugees received little to no assistance in finding housing and that another move would cause “irreparable harm.”
The Legal Aid Society wants the city to provide additional vouchers or keep evacuees in the program until more federal housing assistance is made available.
However, the Bloomberg administration is going to court today to try to overturn the temporary court order:
The city moved quickly to challenge Justice Chan’s order.
“The temporary restraining order issued this evening was done in clear violation of the law requiring the city to receive notice before a TRO can be entered,” said Thomas Crane, chief of the general litigation division in the city’s law department.
NY1 News spoke to one of the hundreds of families facing eviction to the streets if the court oder is lifted:
Shawn Little and her family have been living in a Times Square hotel since November, since Hurricane Sandy filled their home with five feet of water.
“We left with what was on our backs, came back a few days later to get what we can, but basically, not enough,” Little said.
The city has paid for this space while Little tries to find a new home. It said it’s helped more than 1,500 families like hers, most of whom have been able to find permanent housing. But Little was told that the city planned to stop paying for her rooms and for about 200 other families, that this was never intended to be an open-ended program. She said that would be devastating.
“We’ll be out in the street, nowhere,” she said. “This is it right now.”
Little said she’s tried a number of different things, including applying for public housing, but hasn’t been successful yet. The city said she’s received monetary assistance and just needs to file more paperwork for her public housing application to resume. She said she just needs a little more time in the hotel.
“If only the city just give us a little while longer,” she said. “We’re just, you know, really, really determined to get out of here. We don’t want to stay. We really don’t want to stay, but we have no choice.”
We’ll provide further updates on the legal challenge to this latest mean-spirited policy from Mayor Bloomberg’s administration.