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FEMA extends hotel funding for displaced Sandy families

Nearly 1,000 Long Island households displaced by superstorm Sandy can remain in hotels for an additional two weeks, after the federal government extended funding for the temporary housing program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has delayed the “checkout date” for families in the transitional sheltering assistance program until Jan. 27, a spokesman for the agency said Friday. The previous deadline was Sunday.

The program funds hotel rooms for about 970 Long Island households, including individuals and entire families, according to FEMA. This is the third extension of the program, which began Nov. 3.

“FEMA is working with our state and local partners to help get people back into longer-term housing,” John Mills, an agency spokesman, said. “In the meantime, this temporary solution is helping a lot of people. . . . FEMA stays in regular contact with people taking part in the program to determine that they have a plan for longer-term housing, or are working on a plan for longer-term housing. At the same time, we understand that there are housing difficulties that are unique to the New York area, so that’s why these multiple extensions have been approved so far.”

The Jan. 27 deadline has no impact on a separate program that provides grants of up to $31,900 to fund home repairs and up to 18 months of rental housing, Mills said.

News of the extension was greeted with approval by state and federal officials. 

“We cannot forget the struggles that continue to plague victims of Hurricane Sandy. Many still do not have homes to return to and continue to need shelter,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement. Cuomo’s administration requested the extension. The hotel program, he said, “will provide individuals with shelter while we work to get people back into longer-term housing.”

The lives of displaced families “have already been thrown into chaos after losing their homes in the storm, and the least FEMA could do was to provide them with a dry and comfortable place to live while they pick up the pieces,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said in a statement. “Extending the temporary housing benefits was the right thing to do.”

People displaced by the storm can register for federal disaster aid by phone at 800-621-3362, online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or on smartphones or tablet computers at m.fema.gov.

Tags: FEMA , Sandy , hotels

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