NYC Spends $1M on Empty Hotel Rooms Post-Sandy

City's strategy for housing homeless showing 'cracks,' reports WSJ

By Liam Carnahan,  Newser Staff

Posted Nov 29, 2012 10:53 AM CST

(Newser) – New York City's attempts at housing the more than 1,000 people who still remain homeless following Hurricane Sandy aren't exactly praised in today's Wall Street Journal, which paints a picture of vacant hotel rooms and cramped accommodations. It was able to access documents that showed the city has been paying for 120 rooms at a Midtown hotel that haven't been used since mid-month. The $295 nightly rate has translated into a nearly $1 million tab for the empty rooms, which the city says FEMA will ultimately pay.

City officials say some of the seemingly vacant rooms are actually a "buffer" that will allow them to house more people immediately if needed. But "to have families crammed into hotel rooms that were meant for tourists and don't provide a proper way to store and prepare food" is far from ideal, says one legal expert. And the Journal notes that some of the homeless are now in their third or fourth housing situation since the storm, and are struggling with the lack of kitchen and inability to afford restaurant meals. But while a federal official working with FEMA calls NYC's approach unusual, he does note that disaster zones more typically have wide open spaces suited for temporary housing.

Early morning traffic in Brooklyn moves slowly beneath the Manhattan skyline, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
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