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NYC hotel rooms vacant after Sandy

Nov. 30, 2012 at 5:27 PM

NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- More than 100 New York City hotel rooms reserved for victims of Hurricane Sandy have remained empty, officials say.

A total of 1,014 people have been housed in 416 hotel rooms since Sandy hit New York City on Oct. 29, with the city footing the bill, CNN reported. Another 120 rooms designated as emergency housing have gone unused.

When asked Thursday why the city was holding the rooms, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "We've gone out and we've gotten housing for people in case they might need it, but the wonderful thing is we haven't needed it so far."

"We have hotel rooms in advance, particularly now because as you get toward the holiday season the hotel occupancy goes up, and if we need it -- and I hope we don't -- we're going to have those," he added.

Some people affected by Sandy said they had no idea the hotel rooms were available.

"I would go to the hotel," said Nicole Near, whose whose apartment in Queens hasn't had heat or power since the storm hit. "It's freezing in my apartment. I got to wear four pairs of socks every day."

New York Legal Assistance Group president Yisroel Shulman said many people who still don't have heat or power won't leave their homes because they fear looting or they don't want to pull their children from school.

"We believe strongly the minute that first snow hits, and it's really cold, these people are going to need housing," Shulman said. "It's a very prudent move on apart of the city to have as much temporary housing as possible."

To remedy the problem of unused rooms, the city said it has sent out canvassers to knock on more than 12,600 doors to tell people that housing assistance is available for those who still lack heat and electricity.

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