From the WSJ:
Private landlords in New York City have offered to provide several thousand vacant units to house people displaced by the superstorm Sandy, according to people familiar with the matter.
It is just one of the solutions being rapidly concocted as both New York and New Jersey rush to tackle the most daunting task of Sandy’s aftermath: housing tens of thousands of newly homeless people, in a region with few apartments and little empty land.
Government officials, nonprofit organizations and academics have floated myriad solutions—from parking a cruise ship in New York Harbor to housing people temporarily in abandoned subway stations. More realistically, officials are cobbling together a plan consisting of vacant apartments and rental houses, government-issued housing units and even a defunct military barracks in New Jersey. They also expect that some displaced people will find shelter with friends and family.
“The 1% [in Manhattan] vacancy is one thing. Another is we’re land-constrained. We are in a housing emergency as we are every year. It’s an emergency situation on top of an existing emergency housing situation,” said Corinne Packard, a professor who teaches post-catastrophe reconstruction at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate.
Ms. Packard said she isn’t concerned the city won’t be able to come up with enough housing for everyone, but time won’t be on its side.
“The question is how long will people have to live in this tenuous, temporary situation?” she said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has publicly speculated that as many as 40,000 people could be displaced by Sandy. He has since revised that estimate to fewer than 10,000, but estimates of the region’s newly homeless remained unclear Thursday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Thursday that more than 96,000 applicants are eligible for housing money—about 63,000 in New York and almost 33,000 in New Jersey. Some of those have been approved for assistance with paying for hotels, while others have received payments for longer term repairs to their homes or help with short-term rental units.
In New Jersey, real estate groups and hotels have identified more than 5,000 units that could be made available, said Lisa Ryan, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Community Affairs.
The New Jersey Association of Realtors has sent listings of homes to FEMA that could be rented on a temporary basis, including vacant summer homes. But a lack of rental supply may require people to move outside their immediate vicinity, said Jarrod Grasso, the association’s CEO. “It’s an inconvenience but at least it’s a roof over their heads,” Mr. Grasso said about those searching for apartments.