Hundreds of New Yorkers who lost their homes in Hurricane Sandy thought they were going to weather the expiration date of their temporary housing this week, but a last-minute donation is keeping them sheltered, at least for now. NY1's Arlene Borenstein filed the following report.
Ikesher Graham and her 7-year-old son, Tarik Robinson, have been living in a hotel in the Jamaica section of Queens since the beginning of the year. Hurricane Sandy pushed them out of their home in the Rockaways, and life has not been the same.
"I don't sit next to my friends," Tarik said. "I'm so sad."
Tarik has been to three different schools since the storm hit. He and his mother have stayed at the Garden Inn and Suites since January. Other displaced residents are there, too, but they, along with roughly 300 other Hurricane Sandy victims across the city, were at risk of losing their temporary housing after the Federal Emergency Management Agency stopped funding it.
"This feels like the storm all over again," said Carl Myrie, who was displaced by the storm.
That was the initial thought for Myrie, until City Councilman Donovan Richards came to the Jamaica hotel to let Hurricane Sandy victims there know that a $1 million donation had come through to extend hotel stays to people in the process of seeking alternate housing.
Richards didn't say at first where the money is coming from. It turns out that it's from the Red Cross.
"We wanted to help folks who have a permanent housing solution lined up but were having to leave hotels," said Josh Lockwood, regional CEO of the American Red Cross of Greater New York.
Some have criticized the emergency response organization for not distributing Hurricane Sandy funds fast enough, but Red Cross officials disagree.
"The American Red Cross has generously received approximately $300 million from the American public for Sandy," Lockwood said. "These funds have been used every day to support not just the relief effort, but also the recovery effort."
Residents using the temporary housing say it has been helpful but not easy."
"I've seen up to five family members in a one-bedroom," Myrie said.
There's also anxiety of not knowing how long they'll have a place to stay.
"Is it going to be two weeks? Is it going to be three? We don't know," Graham said. "So we still living on the edge."