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Bloomberg: Up to 40,000 in NY need new housing

Tens of thousands of homes are now unsuitable to living after superstorm Sandy.

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NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03: A woman searches through donated shoes at relief center set up in a parking lot on November 3, 2012 in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island borough of New York City. With the death toll currently over 100 and millions of homes and businesses without power, the U.S. East Coast is attempting to recover from the effects of floods, fires and power outages brought on by Superstorm Sandy. New Jersey has begun rationing gas and the Department of Defense will be setting up mobile gas stations in New York City and Long Island. (ANDREW BURTON/AFP/Getty Images)

As a cold front settles in over the Northeast United States, victims of superstorm Sandy face an ongoing crisis - housing.

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday that the city faces an epic housing crisis with as many as 40,000 people needing long- and short-term housing, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Our first concern is to make sure they have food water and security at the same time as we are working on more long term solutions,” Bloomberg said.

The crisis could reach the same levels as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when tens of thousands of people fled New Orleans, reports AFP.

"In this case people are staying in New York City and it's a challenge for us," Bloomberg said.

The mayor said that the number needing housing would probably soon drop to 20,000 as power is restored in more places.

Nearly a week after superstorm Sandy slammed into the Northeast coastline and killed more than 100 people in 10 states, more than 900,000 homes and businesses were still without power in New Jersey, and nearly 700,000 in New York City, its northern suburbs and Long Island.

"It is starting to get cold, people are in homes that are uninhabitable," New York state governor Andrew Cuomo told a press conference. "We are going to have tens of thousands of people who need housing solutions right away."

FEMA director Craig Fugate said 86,000 New York area households have already registered for federal disaster assistance, at a cost of $97 million.

Estimates have put the total cost of Sandy cleanup at $50 billion.

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Sunday that federal agencies are hoping to temporarily house people in apartments and hotel rooms.

But in heavily flooded areas still without power, people are struggling to stay warm.

In Staten Island, Sara Zavala told CBS News that she spent the night under two blankets and layers of clothing because the power was out.

"When I woke up, I was like, `It's freezing.' And I thought, `This can't go on too much longer,"' Zavala, a nursing home admissions coordinator, told CBS.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121104/bloomberg-40000-ny-need-new-housing