Three-quarters of the families displaced by Sunday’s devastating Bronx fire were receiving Section 8 benefits to pay their rent — and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday they can use that same assistance to find new homes.
During a Zoom call with reporters, Schumer explained that, according to federal law, those who receive rent subsidies from Section 8 can use that same funding to rent elsewhere in the city if tragedy strikes their building. Approximately 90 of the 120 families impacted by the Jan. 9 inferno at the Twin Parks North West high-rise in Fordham Heights — during which 17 people perished — have Section 8, and the lawmaker indicated it’s a “godsend” that they can transfer that subsidy toward wherever they relocate.
“We’re making sure they know this right away,” Schumer said, noting that his office has contacted tenant groups within the building to help spread the word. “We’re urging all three levels of government — federal, state and local — to help the tenants find new locations so these folks have a place to live. The federal government will pay their rent.”
The New York senator also sent a letter to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge urging the federal agency to cut through any red tape and “coordinate between NYCHA, HPD (NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development), along with the affected families to facilitate voucher conversions for any family who requests them, and ensure any assistance necessary for immediate relocation.”
“With the trauma that these folks have suffered, it compounds the tragedy,” Schumer said. “It’ll take a while before these apartments are rehabilitated. That’s why we want HUD to work on this as quickly as possible and for all three levels of government to help. They’ve suffered enough.”
While Section 8 will pay for the families to rent a new home, Schumer noted that the benefits do not cover other losses the families may have suffered in the fire. He referenced ongoing efforts by the state and city governments to raise funds for each family recovering from the blaze.
One hundred percent of all donations to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York are being used to help the Bronx fire victims. Visit nyc.gov/fund to donate.