Sandy Evacuees Must Leave Hotels

By Genevieve Belmaker, Epoch Times
September 27, 2013 6:33 pm Last Updated: September 30, 2013 7:59 pm

NEW YORK—A group of Hurricane Sandy evacuees who have been living in hotels under a city assistance program must leave by Sept. 30. On Friday Supreme Court Judge Margaret Chan lifted a preliminary injunction she had put in place to keep several hundred households living in hotel rooms throughout the five boroughs.

At its peak, there were 917 households in the city hotel program. There are still 166 households staying in 200 rooms.

In a separate appeal, the city said during arguments before the New York State Supreme Appeals Court in Manhattan on Thursday that the hotel program was created because the shelter system was overwhelmed. In the past year, at least two new shelters with several hundred beds have been opened.

The city has always said that the program was not intended to continue indefinitely.

“Interim housing, along with intensive case management services, was provided, but was never intended to be a permanent solution,” NYC Corporation Counsel Michael A. Cardozo said in an official statement.

In Judge Chan’s summary of her decision, she noted that the cost of continuing to house Sandy evacuees in hotels would be tremendous. According to an affidavit submitted to Judge Chan by Michael M. Ovesey, Commissioner and General Counsel of the Department of Homeless Services, the monthly cost to house one family in a hotel room is $16,355 per month. Conversely, the Coalition for the Homeless estimates that housing a family in a shelter costs about $3,000 per month.

The hotel program has cost the city about $73 million, which will be reimbursed by FEMA. But the Corp. Counsel Cardozo said in his statement, after Chan’s decision was issued, that the city couldn’t shoulder the financial burden past Sept. 30.

“As the court has recognized, the City cannot afford to single-handedly continue this program in the absence of FEMA funding,” stated Cardozo. He added that those who do not have “an exit plan” could go to a DHS shelter until they find a better solution.