Homeless Sandy victims worry over FEMA hotel deadline
About 900 to 1,000 Long Island singles, couples and families affected by Sandy and staying in hotels paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency must be out by Jan. 27, but some say they still don't have places to go.
The agency's deadline already has been extended three times to allow Long Islanders in the transitional sheltering assistance program a chance to find longer-term housing, but Sandy victims such as Lori Stein, 56, of Long Beach, say the agency has not allowed them enough time or money to find a new home, especially in Long Island's tight housing market.
Stein, who has been living in a Garden City hotel since two weeks after the Oct. 29 storm, worries she'll be homeless once the Jan. 27 deadline passes. The Long Beach native has been searching for an apartment in her hometown, but has not had any luck.
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"There's nothing out there for us to go to, so where do you want us to go?" said Stein, whose rental apartment flooded to the ceiling during Sandy. "I'm going to be with other people literally on the street if they don't pay for the hotel."
Stein and a handful of Sandy evacuees attended a FEMA-sponsored meeting at the hotel Monday designed to provide help finding a place to live.
Mickey Hastava, of Island Park, who also is staying in the Garden City hotel, said he never scouted out a rental on Long Island after his home flooded.
"Rental housing I didn't even look for, because there was nothing available," said Hastava, who runs an insurance, real-estate and travel agency.
"I had a million people calling my . . . [agency] for rentals, and they're all gone."
Hastava, who plans to move to Florida until his home is repaired, said fellow hotel dwellers are worried about the deadline.
"People are wondering what they're going to do after the 27th," he said.
FEMA spokesman John Mills said the agency is coordinating with charities to help people leave hotels.
"FEMA is actively trying to find them longer-term housing so they can move out of their hotels," Mills said. "If they can't find something, the whole community is going to help them."
Still, Mills said it was possible the Jan. 27 deadline could be pushed back for a fourth time.
"We're going to consider whether it should be extended again," he said.