The Real Deal New York

East Harlem blast victims scramble to find permanent housing

Mayor’s Fund rental assistance to expire in July

May 22, 2014 12:15PM

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1644-1646 Park Avenue following the March TK blast

1644-1646 Park Avenue following the March 12 blast

Two months after a pair of East Harlem buildings crumbled in the wake of an explosion, only two of the 13 displaced families have found permanent housing.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City is paying the former residents’ rent for three months, sending those who still lack housing into a scramble to find new lodging, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“The biggest challenge that we hear is the people are frustrated that they haven’t found a permanent place to live,” Pura Cruz, an outreach coordinator with nonprofit LSA Family Health Service, told the Journal. “They’re anticipating help from [the city] and nothing really has happened.”

The city provided temporary housing in the wake of the blast.

Many of the blast victims want to stay in the neighborhood, but have low incomes and are surrounded by rising rents. In the two destroyed buildings, rents ranged from around $450 to $1,000 per month, with a few as low as $140 per month. Several were two or three-bedroom units. The average resident income, meanwhile, was about $25,900, according to Housing Preservation and Development Department data cited by the Journal.

“We are working with the families as well as our local sponsors to help identify permanent-housing options that meet the needs of each household,” a city Department of Housing Preservation and Development spokesperson told the paper, adding that the agency is also helping eligible families apply for rental assistance programs like Section 8. [WSJ]Julie Strickland

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