Finding A Home After Sandy — Temporarily
Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin talks with Daphne Murphy about her experience living in temporary housing post-Superstorm Sandy. Murphy has been living in shelters and hotels since the storm struck last September.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Six months after Hurricane Sandy, nearly 1,000 New Yorkers are still living in temporary housing, hotel rooms paid for by the city.
DAPHNE MURPHY: My name is Daphne Murphy and I'm from Rockaway Park, Queens.
MARTIN: Daphne and her long-term boyfriend were living in a Rockaway Park bungalow when the storm hit.
MURPHY: I was in my apartment. It was very windy. We heard the water coming in. Then the lights flickered off. The water was coming in, rushing really quick into our bungalow. And I saw sparks so we grabbed the cell phone and the charger, and the water was up to my chest when we escaped.
MARTIN: Daphne has been living in evacuation centers and hotel rooms paid for by the city since the storm.
People in these programs were supposed to be out of temporary housing by this Tuesday. But many of them, like Daphne and her boyfriend, didn't have savings or enough money to move into a new home right away.
MURPHY: I was working at a local laundromat but I had just gotten laid-off September 2nd. I was working there for eight years.
MARTIN: And your boyfriend?
MURPHY: He's a retired green bus driver so he was receiving his pension.
MARTIN: OK. So what happened afterwards? Where did you go?
MURPHY: I went to three evacuation centers and one hotel and I did find an apartment. I received my Section 8 voucher on March 12th and I'm just waiting on the city inspection, and then I'll be in sometime in May.
MARTIN: So this is relatively good news.
MURPHY: Yes, it's very good news. I could cook again. I could sleep in my own bed. Yes.
MARTIN: The city decided Friday afternoon to extend benefits to some people and you fell into that category.
MURPHY: Right, and they told us the people that do have apartments, that are trying to get into their apartments by next month are extended till May 30th.
MARTIN: So that buys you some time. You can stay at the hotel. You can kind of get your bearings, get ready to move.
MURPHY: Yes, of course. I'm going to clean up my new apartment, order my furniture and try to get in. Yes.
MARTIN: Do you know other people who have not been as lucky in finding new housing?
MURPHY: Yes, I know a lot of people actually. They had to leave the hotel because they weren't cooperating, they weren't looking for apartments. They just weren't working as hard as I was and now they're in homeless shelters because of that.
MARTIN: And I understand that it is just you moving into this apartment; that your boyfriend passed away?
MURPHY: He passed away April 1st on my son's birthday. He got hurt during Hurricane Sandy. His foot got infected and they had to amputate his toe. And a week later, they found he had cancer in the pancreas and they removed the tumor in November. Then in December or January, they found that the cancer spread to his liver and they gave him two months to live.
MARTIN: I'm so sorry.
MURPHY: So I've been doing this all on my own. He's been in hospitals, rehabs.
MARTIN: So this is a big moment for you to be able to get into a home.
MURPHY: It is. It's going to be hard because I'll be alone but I have to start a new life, I guess.
MARTIN: What does it look like, your new place?
MURPHY: It's nice. It's a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. It's in Brooklyn. It's in a pretty reasonable nice neighborhood. It's by shopping area by the train station. It's perfect for me.
MARTIN: Daphne Murphy was a victim of Hurricane Sandy. She joined us on the phone from her temporary housing in New York City.
Daphne, thank you so much for talking with us.
MURPHY: You're welcome.
MARTIN: Best of luck with everything. Congratulations.
MURPHY: Thank you. Thank you.
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MARTIN: Tomorrow on MORNING EDITION, hear more about the efforts in New York City to move Hurricane Sandy victims out of hotel rooms and into permanent housing.
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MARTIN: You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.