Starting tomorrow, the city of New York plans to evict about 300 people who were displaced by Superstorm Sandy, from the hotels where they’ve been staying.
Desiree Marino, a retired New York City police officer, was flooded out of her home in Brooklyn. She’s been living in the Park Central Hotel in Manhattan.
She spoke yesterday at a press conference with several other people who are slated to be evicted, about wanting to be able to go home:
“We all want to go home, we want to be able to live in a community and do what we’ve done before. They should not be putting us out in the street.”
The temporary housing program has cost the city about $73 million.
- Patrick Markee, an advocate with the group Coalition for the Homeless, one of the organizations that has been working to find housing for the Sandy victims.
ROBIN YOUNG, HOST:
We want to quick check in now in New York, where tomorrow about 300 people staying in hotels after being displaced by Superstorm Sandy last year will be evicted. Desiree Marino, a retired New York City police officer, has lived in the Park Central Hotel after her Brooklyn home was flooded. She spoke yesterday at a press conference.
DESIREE MARINO: We want to go home. We want to be able to live in a community again and do what we've done before. And they should not be putting us out in the street.
YOUNG: But New York has already spent $73 million on housing, and they say they can't afford more. Evacuees say they can't find housing. Patrick Markee of the Coalition for the Homeless is here, and Patrick, what are these families going to do tomorrow?
PATRICK MARKEE: Well, these families are incredibly scared at this point. These are folks, it's important to remember, who are very poor, were renters living in some very low-income communities that were hard-hit by Sandy, the Rockaways, Southern Brooklyn. Many of them were living in very marginal housing. That housing was destroyed.
And now rents have increased so much in those communities that they can't find housing that they can afford. And remarkably, it took the city nearly nine months to put together a housing subsidy program for these folks, and keep in mind this was after the city of New York threatened back in the spring to evict these Sandy survivors.
And what's really most outrageous of all is that finally we have - many of them have housing vouchers in hand, have even identified apartments that they want to move into, but what they're waiting for are city inspectors to inspect those apartments or city agencies to help them with move-in costs.
And at this very moment, when they're so close, the city wants to pull the rug out from under them and evict them from these hotels. It's really outrageous.
YOUNG: Well, those - you say there are some that have these vouchers that have a bead on an apartment, others who have these $1,300 vouchers are coming across landlords who don't want to deal with what you just talked about, inspectors, paperwork that goes with aid. But you know what city officials are saying. They're saying now it makes no sense for the city to pay for hotels. Why can't 300 or so people be housed in the city's shelter system? You say what?
MARKEE: Well, these are families that have been displaced and moved around time after time. The city now says they want to just relocate them into the city shelter system, but believe it or not, they're saying these families aren't going to get moved into shelter, that they're going to have to go and apply for shelter.
And we've already seen in some instances, from families that were evicted from hotels back in the spring before we could stop this, that those families ended up facing huge bureaucratic obstacles even in getting emergency shelter in our homeless shelter system.
YOUNG: You mentioned many of these were poor people, rental housing that was destroyed, and they're finding it hard to replace it, people making less than $30,000 a year who are living in $16,000-a-month hotels. Is there a concern that some people don't want to move out of $16,000-a-month hotels? Why would you when you've got so little to look forward to?
MARKEE: Absolutely not. First of all, these so-called $16,000-a-month hotels are some very, very modest or even rundown hotels. The city is overpaying for these hotels.
YOUNG: And it's New York, which is perhaps overcharging.
MARKEE: It's New York, but we're talking about Hampton Inns, La Quinta Inns. Secondly, the families want to move. Every family we've talked to is desperately trying to get out of these hotels and get permanent housing. The real question is why it took city officials nine months to put a housing subsidy plan in place and why at this very moment, when these families are so close to securing permanent housing after an 11-month odyssey, the city of New York wants to evict them and make them homeless once again.
YOUNG: That's Patrick Markee from the Coalition for the Homeless. Tomorrow, 300 people evacuated almost a year ago because of Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed their housing, are going to be evicted from the hotels that they've been put up in by the city. Patrick, thanks so much for speaking with us.
MARKEE: Thank you.
YOUNG: And you're listening to HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.