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Lawmakers Lack Agreement On How To Approach Local Housing Shortage

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As the days get shorter and colder, long-term housing needs for the city will increase, but there does not seem to be a single solution that public officials are willing to embrace. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Housing is a problem that will need to be solved quickly. Unfortunately, there is no consensus about how to do that.

"They are looking at possibly trailers, manufactured housing, even boats in the harbor. But also there are large facilities, hospital facilities. Like on Randall's Island, there's a large facility. We need to look into whether that should be used," said Manhattan-Queens Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.

Manhattan Psychiatric on Wards Island could potentially provide beds for thousands of people. There are several more state-run mental health hospitals, including Creedmoor in Queens.

Critics say the facilities are currently under-utilized, with just a few hundred patients at most.

"They're looking at every possibility because we have a huge shortage, and no possibility should be ruled out," said Senator Charles Schumer. "But you can't just jump and make it, even if it's something that's not going to work, and say 'Let's do it.' But they are looking at everything."

One idea has been to use FEMA trailers, like people in New Orleans did in the days and months after 2005's Hurricane Katrina.

"We are going to need a lot of housing assistance. We are going to need trailers, we're going to need everything you can imagine here," said Manhattan-Brooklyn Congressman Jerry Nadler.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and others say trailers might work better in more suburban Communities, like Nassau County, where people can put the trailers on their property next to their homes. In the more densely populated environments of New York City, that might be less of an option.

"It's going to be decided on a community by community basis. Some people will use trailers, others will use hotels, motels. Some communities will use short-term apartments. So there will be a host of options," the governor said.

Cuomo said the state will be faced with different sets of needs from families as the weather worsens.

"You are going to have some people who need short-term housing, you have others who will need long-term housing solutions. And those are two very different things," he said.

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