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McKinstry: One month after Sandy, a reminder that temporary housing is hard to find
More than 100 people left homeless in Rockland County after superstorm Sandy, and facing an uncertain future at a temporary shelter, may be breathing a bit easier this weekend.
Families staying at the Stony Point Conference Center since Oct. 29 recently got a two-week lifeline to stay longer, and the people running the retreat grounds say no one is going to be kicked to the curb.
“Nobody is going to be sleeping in their car,” Kitty Ufford-Chase, co-director of the center, told me Friday. “Everybody in Rockland County is committed to getting them into places to live, whatever the need.”
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The center, a multi-faith residential community owned by the Presbyterian Church and committed to teaching nonviolence, isn’t your typical shelter. In fact, it’s more of a shelter by circumstance. It has 180 beds and was one of a few places that didn't lose power after the storm, enabling it to accommodate so many people.
Given the center group's faith-based approach to living, you’ve got to figure the families staying there are blessed and in good hands, despite the long road ahead that many still face.
Some families have gone back to their homes and others expect to in the coming days. Others, however, will have to find new places to live.
Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved the center as a transitional housing location until Dec. 14, newsday.com reported. That means these families -– many of which live in the nearby Ba Mar trailer park that was flooded by the storm surge along the Hudson River -- can use disaster aid to stay there.
Sandy has reminded of us of many things: This particular situation exemplifies how difficult it can be to find affordable housing, particularly on short notice.
As reporter Sarah Armaghan of newsday.com reported earlier in the week, apartment rentals are hard to find. Where they are available, the costs and restrictions are usually too much for those who are displaced.
Meanwhile, Ufford-Chase said dozens of staff members and volunteers have “stepped up” and been given the gift of helping their neighbors. They spend a lot of time playing soccer, helping kids with homework, baking cookies and generally keeping families occupied at their temporary haven.
“Those families are in difficult straits and holding it together,” she said. “Most of the families come from less than a mile from here.”
Like other hard-hit areas, volunteers in Stony Point are helping with the rebuilding of their community, or as Ufford-Chase put it, “living it out in a different way.”
By living it out, you could say they are practicing what they preach.
Pictured above: The residents of Stony Point displaced by Hurricane Sandy nearly one month ago have found solace in one another after coming together at the Stony Point Conference Center, which has been transformed into a shelter.