Homeless advocates say that in trying to find long-term shelter for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, New York City’s lack of affordable housing options has been exposed, according to the New York Times.
Before the storm, the city was sheltering 47,000 homeless, which is more than any other city in the U.S. In one day, thousands more were made homeless by the storm.
In the past three weeks, the city has moved evacuees around multiple times – first sheltered in public schools, they had to be moved to armories so that the schools could reopen. After complaints of chaotic and unsanitary conditions in the open dormitories, hundreds of people were then put up in hotel rooms costing at much as $300 (the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to cover the hotel costs).
“Moving people from drill floors to hotel rooms makes a lot of sense, but it begs the question: From there, where?” said Steven Banks, the chief lawyer of the Legal Aid Society, according to the Times.
Banks, whose group is an advocate for the homeless, applauded the city for it’s quick work evacuating those in trouble, but says the city doesn’t have a long-term recovery plan.
And some who are put up in expensive hotels are finding that while the rooms are comfortable, food is hard to come by.
Tareste Etienne, a 56-year old disabled man whose Far Rockaway home was destroyed, is currently living with his family at LaGuardia Airport Hotel, and has been hunting in vain for a store that will accept food stamps that hasn’t already been cleared out, says the Times.
Shabria Covington, 19, and Zamond Lewis, 23, were staying with a relative in Canarsie with their six-month old child when the storm hit. They are now being put up in the ritzy Park Central Hotel in Midtown, but say affordable meals in the area are hard to come by.
Lewis said that he was grateful for a nice place to stay, but added, “We’re inside this expensive hotel where we can’t even feed ourselves.”
Etienne said simply about his plight: “We are lucky to be alive.”