Officials in New York are reportedly eyeing a recently-closed prison as temporary housing for people displaced by super-storm Sandy and this week’s nor’easter.
The New York Post reports that state officials are considering the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island to feed and house as many as 900 victims with nowhere else to turn.
“Our facilities staff have to go through it to determine what it would take to get it up and running for such a purpose,” Peter Cutler, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, told the newspaper. “Of course, the challenge is the fact that it was closed a year ago and all of the major infrastructure components, such as boilers and waste water system, were deactivated.”
As many as 40,000 New Yorkers need shelter from extreme weather events, according to city estimates. On Staten Island alone, about 5,200 people applied for temporary FEMA housing, but only about two dozen people have been successfully placed, federal sources told the newspaper.
“It’s empty. They might as well use it,” said Rob Conigatti, 39, who lost his Dongan Hills home and is now staying with his extended family. “At least they have the right facilities. You can’t keep them in schools. The kids gotta go to school.”
Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, however, is firmly opposed to using the prison, sources said. He didn’t return a call for comment.
His opposition was echoed by several of the 60 people staying at the Mount Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Shore Acres.
Some of those people have been arriving with what euphemistically has been called “pre-existing conditions” of mental disorders and substance abuse, according to sources.
Many people, including senior citizens, were too scared to stay in the high schools that were opened last week because they didn’t want to bunk with already homeless people.