Remember how helping Sandy victims was Obama’s top priority? Well, for that hour-long photo-op with Chris Christie it was. Now 100 days after the storm ravaged the Northeast there are thousands left in hotel rooms at quite the hefty price tag.
Almost 4,000 New York and New Jersey households displaced by superstorm Sandy remain camped in hotel rooms, an effort costing public agencies tens of millions of dollars and fraying the nerves of uprooted families entering a fourth month with no promise of permanent homes.
About 2,800 households stayed in hotel rooms Monday night in New York and New Jersey under a program run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, officials said, while another 839 were in rooms paid for by New York City’s Department of Homeless Services.
City Council members, at a hearing Tuesday on the management of New York’s shelter after Sandy, urged city officials to move as many people as possible out of hotels and into permanent homes. Outside City Hall, protesters demanded more efforts to quickly find permanent housing for those affected by Sandy.
“We need a much more coordinated and aggressive case management system for these individuals and their families,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Costs of the hotel program are mounting: So far, FEMA has spent $26.4 million in New Jersey and about $45.2 million in New York, according to officials in those states.
City officials couldn’t immediately provide cost estimates, except to say that New York was paying an average of $236 per room per night, according to a spokeswoman for the homeless services department. Based on that room cost, the city spent at least $198,004 Monday night on the program. (Some households use more than one room.)
In New York, households in hotel rooms paid for by the Department of Homeless Services have risen to 839 on Feb. 5 from 557 on Nov. 25. City officials attributed the increase to lower temperatures, a campaign to attract those without housing and people exhausting their options of staying with friends—along with the closure of city hurricane shelters.
City officials also say they’ve taken in people who could not qualify for FEMA rental-assistance programs because they could not produce a pre-Sandy lease or other verification.
So people who aren’t even qualified for the “temporary” housing are also getting it and we’re picking up the tab. Great job, Obama!