Heavy smoke pours from the debris as the fire department responds to Wednesday's East Harlem explosion. Credit: Getty Images
The city will provide temporary and permanent housing to over 100 New Yorkers displaced after an apparent gas leak sparked a fatal explosion in East Harlem, officials said Friday.
Eight people died and at least 60 more were injured when two Park Avenue buildings leveled after the blast Wednesday morning.
Because of safety concerns from ongoing recovery efforts, city agencies have vacated 91 apartments in four buildings surrounding the site.
"There's a constant effort being made to determine when people can go back into their buildings if their building is still there," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
About 55 families, including over 100 adults and children, have registered for assistance as of Friday afternoon, according to Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Bean. Some only need temporary assistance while others require permanent housing.
The Real Estate Board of New York has arranged for at least 34 units near the east side neighborhood to be available for up to three months, and that number may grow.
"This is the kind of situation in which New Yorkers step up and help each other," de Blasio said.
The New York State Association for Affordable Housing will also assist the city in providing long-term apartments in the community for those whose homes were destroyed.
The city's Department of Homeless Services has over 50 units available in private buildings run by non-profits. The YMCA will also work with the city to house single individuals.
"Whatever a family's need as a result of this crisis, we have an option for them," the mayor said.
De Blasio urged anyone displaced by the blast to register for housing assistance with the city as soon as possible.
New Yorkers can register on Friday at the Salvation Army at 175 E. 125th Street. Beginning on Saturday, residents can register at La Marqueta at 1607 Park Ave.
The mayor and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, whose district included the buildings, met with displaced residents in a temporary Red Cross Shelter at the Salvation Army Friday afternoon.
"[It] means a lot to the residents of this community to know that they are not being forgotten," Mark-Viverito said after the visit.