With the city’s shelter system running at capacity since Hurricane Sandy, vacant apartments are being rounded up by city, state and federal officials in an attempt to house thousands of families displaced by the storm, according to the New York Times.
“There’s a huge fear that folks are going to be displaced for the medium and long term,” Mathew Wambua, the city’s housing commissioner, told the Times. “We feel a real imperative to have something in place when the second surge comes.”
For the long term, officials have talked of modular housing as a way to house displaced families, but for now, officials are focused on creating a system that would match families with apartments that had been sitting vacant anyway.
According to the Times, Shaun Donovan, the federal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, told real estate executives last week, “You really need to help out.”
And though many landlords and developers are eager to lend a hand, they raised many issues, which have been the source of lengthy meetings between city and state officials, and members of the Real Estate Board of New York, the Rent Stabilization Association and the state Association for Affordable Housing.
One system discussed would have displaced families apply for housing with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and when matched to a new home, will pay rent with a FEMA voucher – at most, $1,800, for up to 18 months.
A spokesman for Donovan told the Times that they were devising a creative solution to the housing issue, but no specifics were ready to be announced yet.