Red Cross donates $1M to extend hotel program for Sandy victims


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

An anonymous donor has funded the almost-terminated Hotel Program, thereby allowing families displaced by Sandy to be housed past the original end date.

The donor, later revealed as the Red Cross, donated $1 million to the city program, which was previously funded by FEMA. That federal aid was set to stop on September 30.

“Hundreds of Sandy victims remain in hotels as they repair their homes or transition into new ones,” said Councilmember Donovan Richards, who fought against the termination of the program.

He said the end of the FEMA funding was “pushing these families into the homeless system.”

The Department of Homeless Services created the Hotel Program shortly after the storm left hundreds of residents on the streets. City homeless shelters were without any additional room, and so various hotels took in the storm victims.

Originally, the program was set to stop by May 31. The decision was taken to court, and federal funding was extended through September. The Red Cross stepped in on October 3 with its own donation.

“Today was almost the day hundreds of Sandy victims ended up on the street, or back in their mold-filled homes,” Richards said after receiving the donation. “This money gives our friends and neighbors the grace period they need to avoid homelessness.”

Over 1,000 households participated in the Hotel Program since Sandy, which cost more than $70.5 million, according to court documents. As of mid-September, 179 households remain in the program.

Since FEMA could no longer provide aid, the cost would have been transferred onto the city, which does not have a place in its budget for the program, according to court documents.

“Although this money will not extend the program forever, this will aid every day New Yorkers who are in the process of transitioning into new homes,” Richards said.

 

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