People without homes after Sandy criticize hotel, shelter conditions

Christine Quinn
Council Speaker Christine Quinn met with homeowners today in Staten Island. (Getty)

Hurricane Sandy evacuees say they are living in squalid conditions in hotels and shelters months after the storm.

People whose homes were wrecked in the storm spoke out today on the steps of City Hall, demanding improved sanitary conditions at the places where they are sleeping.

The City Council’s Committees on General Welfare, Oversight and Investigations and Aging, Health and Mental Health together held a hearing this afternoon on shelter for storm evacuees.

“Hurricane Sandy created an unprecedented need for emergency shelter,” according to Council documents prepared for today’s hearing.

After the storm, many people were at first housed in 76 schools transformed into shelters but were transferred after the schools reopened to homeless shelters or YMCAs.

About 1,000 people were assigned to 29 hotels, according to the Council.

“The hotels the city is using to shelter Sandy victims range from the upscale W Downtown Hotel to SROs in the Bronx,” Council documents reveal.

Some have FEMA vouchers, and others’ rooms are paid for by the city — which has spent $50 million on the hotel program, according to the Council.

Council members addressed the management and conditions of shelters, as well as hotels housing evacuees.

The Coalition for the Homeless estimated today that thousands of people still cannot return to their homes.

Those New Yorkers living away from home reported fire-safety issues and housing code violations. Many have also complained help was not available soon enough.

Far Rockaway resident Rosie Bethea said she is worried she will be put out of the hotel she’s staying in.

She asked Council members for low-income housing, “so that we can start putting our lives back together.”

Advocacy groups like the Legal Aid Society also urged the Council to use FEMA assistance to move people into apartments.


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