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Listen: Affordable Housing a Challenge for Residents Following Bronx Fire

A fire in the Bronx killed at least 17 people on Sunday and has left more than 100 families homeless. For the displaced residents the tragedy is compounded because Twin Parks North West was a facility with something the City is in desperate need of: affordable units.

Three-quarters of the building’s residents are on Section 8 housing vouchers, which is the federal government’s program for assisting low-income families, the disabled, and the elderly. It is unclear if and when the families will be able to return, but finding new accommodations will be a challenge.

Judith Goldiner, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society recently joined NPR’s Morning Editon to discuss the issues faced by tenants who rely on Section 8 in New York City.

“You have to go out and find a landlord who is willing to take your voucher, whose apt fits your family size, and also whose apartment is going to pass what we call ‘housing quality standards,’ and that can be pretty difficult in New York City,” she said.

Housing quality standards are minimum requirements a residence must meet to maintain the health and safety of program participants, including things like smoke detectors, heat and hot water, and windows that open and close.

The government subsidies that entice property owners to maintain affordable housing are lucrative and Goldiner called on the building’s owner Bronx Park Phase III Preservation to assist in finding proper accommodations for the displaced residents.

“This is a very large affordable housing for-profit consortium and they have lots of other apartments and it seems to us that they should be helping people find other places,” she said.

Listen to the full segment below.