By Jennifer Fermino
April 29, 2013
The nearly 200 Hurricane Sandy families who were supposed to be kicked out of their temporary hotel lodgings on Tuesday can sleep easy — at least for one night.
A group of the evacuees filed a lawsuit against the city, demanding it continue the program that funded their hotel stays. That program was supposed to end on Tuesday, but a judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the city from evicting the families until May 15.
The judge will hold a hearing on that day to decide whether or not the case will go forward.
The lawsuit claims that the city did not do enough to find the storm victims housing, a claim the city disputes.
The Department of Homeless Services alleges that those who remain in hotels either did not qualify for public housing or turned down options available to them.
“The city made heroic efforts after Hurricane Sandy, and we strongly believe this complaint is without merit,” said Thomas Crane, of the city’s law department.
But Rachel Rivera, a Sandy victim living in a hotel paid for by the city and member of New York Communities for Change, called the program’s end “arbitrary.”
“[We] will continue to fight to secure long term affordable housing for all families displaced by Sandy,” she said.
Alliance For A Just Rebuilding on Monday organized a rally on the steps of City Hall to protest the end of the program.
UPDATE: A city said Rivera was initally disqualfied from receiving public housing because her live-in partner had a criminal history. She subsequently stopped communicating with social services to find a new home, the official said.
UPDATE: A rep for New York Communities for Change insisted Rivera and her partner had separate cases, and that she cooperated with the city in the search for a home, but officials were unresponsive to her needs.
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