"I'm all out of ideas. I'm dazed and confused," he said.
Relief agencies have been conferring with real estate agents in hard-hit areas like Belle Harbor in the Rockaways section of New York City but have found only a few vacancies, said Yisroel Schulman, president of the New York City Legal Assistance Group. And even if people can find apartments, FEMA payments for temporary housing may fall short in a city known for its expensive housing.
"In the short term, the government is completely ill-prepared," Schulman said.
It's unclear what plans the city, state and federal government had before the storm to deal with a housing crisis of this magnitude. But in 2007, the city Office of Emergency Management held a design competition for post-disaster housing if a Category 3 hurricane smashed the city and left hundreds of thousands homeless.
The winning ideas included building a six-story complex mounted on ship hulls; using debris to create provisional housing; and turning shipping containers into living quarters.