June 21, 2021 By Ryan Songalia
Families who have been provided with temporary hotel accommodation since a fire tore through their Jackson Heights apartment building in April are being given extra time to stay.
The hotel stays were set to expire by June 20, but families are now eligible to stay longer if they submit an application with the New York City Housing Preservation and Development, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a tweet on June 17.
“The families displaced by April’s fire in Jackson Heights are our neighbors,” de Blasio said. He added that the temporary housing will continue to be provided no matter a person’s immigration status.
It is unclear how long the extension will last.
The families were left without accommodation after an eight-alarm blaze damaged two buildings, located at 89-07 and 89-11 34th Ave., on April 6. There were no casualties but 21 people – 16 of whom were firefighters – were injured.
Temporary hotel stays were initially provided by the Red Cross before the city stepped in to offer hotel accommodation.
The extension comes after members of 89th Street Tenants Unidos Association, a tenant association representing those affected by the fire, accompanied by elected officials held a rally on June 10 to demand that their emergency hotel stays be extended.
The families displaced by April’s fire in Jackson Heights are our neighbors. The City will continue to provide temporary housing REGARDLESS of immigration status.
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 17, 2021
They also demanded that they be housed in the Jackson Heights area, instead of being scattered throughout the city.
Area elected officials have been advocating on behalf of the tenants—including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Sen. Jessica Ramos, Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Council Member Danny Dromm—since they were left homeless.
Local officials sent a letter to the mayor and city agencies on June 15 requesting that the tenants have their emergency hotel stays extended through September.
The families still don’t have a timeline for when they can return to their apartments and say they need time to find housing in the neighborhood where they’ve established their lives and where their children go to school.