Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (right) with Mayor Eric Adams
Photo by Dean Moses
Three-quarters of families displaced by the devastating Bronx fire on Sunday were receiving Section 8 benefits to pay their rent – and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday they could use that same aid to find new accommodation.
In a Zoom call with reporters, Schumer explained that under federal law those who receive Section 8 rent subsidies can use that same funding to rent elsewhere in the city if a tragedy strikes their building. About 90 of the 120 families affected by the January 9 hell in the Twin Parks North West skyscraper in Fordham Heights – in which 17 people perished – have Section 8, and lawmakers have indicated that it is ” godsend ”that they can transfer that subsidy to where they are settling.
“We make sure they know it right away,” Schumer said, noting that his office has contacted groups of tenants within the building to help spread the word. “We urge all three levels of government – federal, state and local – to help tenants find new locations so that these people 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 eliminate all bureaucracy and “coordinate between NYCHA, HPD (NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development), as well as the families concerned to facilitate voucher conversions for any family which requests it, and to ensure all the assistance necessary for an immediate resettlement.
“Along with the trauma these people have gone through, it compounds the tragedy,” Schumer said. “It will take some time before these apartments are rehabilitated. That’s why we want HUD to work on it as quickly as possible and for all three levels of government to help us. They have suffered enough.
While Section 8 will pay for families to rent a new home, Schumer noted that the benefits do not cover any other losses the families may have suffered in the blaze. He referred to ongoing efforts by state and city governments to raise funds for every family recovering from the blaze.
One hundred percent of all donations to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York are used to help victims of the Bronx fire. Visit nyc.gov/fund to donate.