Council hearing evaluated City assistance and outreach provided to New Yorkers following the storm

City Hall, NY — Today, the Council Committee on Housing and Buildings held an oversight hearing to examine the housing needs of New Yorkers displaced by Hurricane Sandy and to evaluate the City’s efforts to help residents secure long-term housing.

At today’s hearing, Speaker Quinn and Council Members raised concerns about the City’s outreach to displaced families and the City’s ability to provide long-term housing to low-income New Yorkers impacted by the storm.

In addition, Speaker Quinn and the Council examined the assistance provided to homeowners who wish to return or remain in damaged homes.

In her opening remarks, Speaker Quinn stated: “Every morning for the past four months, thousands of families have woken up in hotel rooms across the City or on the couches of family members of friends, instead of the comfort of their own homes. Others have lived in the midst of damaged homes in need of repair. For these families, Sandy caused more than just a temporary interruption in their daily lives- it took away one of the most important things a family can have: a stable habitable home. As a City it is our responsibility to help those who need assistance find long-term housing and to help address repair and rebuilding needs.”

“Thousands of New Yorkers are still suffering and recovering from the devastating impact that “Hurricane Sandy” had on our region,” said Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, the Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee. “While great strides have been made to help those that were displaced and needed housing, there are many others that are still in need of a permanent housing solution. It is our hope that during today’s hearing we not only get an update about what has been done so far, but also to discuss and explore what steps continue to be taken to help find permanent housing solutions for the remaining New Yorkers displaced by the storm while prospectively formulating policies that will help us deal with similar situations in the future.”

Specifically, the Council focused on:
• Subsidized Housing Vouchers for Low-Income Renters
Speaker Quinn and Council Members called on FEMA, HUD and the City to move to find longer-term solutions for families whose incomes are too low to even qualify for the affordable apartments being made available. DHAP and more permanent solutions are needed to help ensure families can find the new homes they need.

• Making Housing Resources Easier to Navigate:
Speaker Quinn and Council Members questioned the Administration on assistance available to displaced New Yorkers seeking rental apartments and expressed concerns that the New York City Housing Portal does not list all housing options available through the City, such as NYCHA apartments, Section 8 vouchers and new HPD and HDC projects that will prioritize housing for Sandy evacuees.

Council Members recommended the City enhance the current New York City Housing Portal so that it becomes the central location that lists all available housing options and includes a link to FEMA’s housing portal.

• Assistance to Homeowners In Damaged Homes
Council Members questioned Administration officials on the scope of repairs made by Repaid Repairs and on the City’s mold remediation program.

In addition, Council Members sought a timeline for the release of HUD rebuilding assistance funds and the completion of all repairs.

• Case Management for Displaced New Yorkers
Speaker Quinn and Council Members evaluated the case management services offered to Sandy evacuees. Council Members expressed concerns that families have not received adequate assistance to secure new homes and questioned whether the housing options currently available would help New Yorkers transition into permanent housing.
The Council also heard from advocates for the homeless and legal service organizations who shared their experiences working with displaced New Yorkers and those living in damaged homes as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Today’s hearing was the latest in a series of oversight hearings the Council will hold in the coming weeks to examine the City’s response to Hurricane Sandy.