Apartments May Be Used to House Storm Victims

NYC officials are considering creating a “clearinghouse” of apartments to help house those made homeless by the superstorm that hit the northeast a couple of weeks ago.:

Developers and landlords expressed a willingness to pitch in, but they also raised some issues that needed to be addressed first. That led to lengthy meetings on Thursday between state and city officials and members of the Real Estate Board of New York, the Rent Stabilization Association and the state Association for Affordable Housing.

They discussed creating a system by which people who apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for housing could be matched with landlords who have vacant apartments. The tenants would pay rent directly with a FEMA voucher, or obtain an apartment through an agency like the Red Cross…

Landlords raised a series of statutory and legal hurdles that would have to be overcome. In apartments that operate under the state’s rent stabilization laws, there is no provision for short-term tenants. Some building owners asked whether the government would indemnify them for apartment damages or legal costs if they were forced to evict a tenant.

In related news, officials at the National Apartment Association announced at their Assembly of Delegates in Indianapolis last week that they are working on using the lessons learned during the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy to develop a system that can be used by the apartment industry to help in providing aid to victims of natural disasters.  Formal announcements should be coming in the months ahead.