Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brooklyn Rentals Rare as Sandy Victims Look for Housing

Some of Sandy's Damage in Rockaway 

Lorraine Massoni and her three children were forced out of their Rockaway home by severe flooding in the wake of the devastation wreaked on New York by Hurricane Sandy. Since then the family has been staying with friends and relatives while they look for alternative digs for herself and her children. But so far she has only run into a brick wall.

“I have reached out to I can’t even tell you how many Realtors,” Massoni, 44, said as she drove around Brooklyn in her rented minivan with her children. “They tell you they have places, they say, ‘Let me talk to the landlord and see if they take dogs,’ then nothing. They don’t even call you back.”

Massoni recently looked at a two-bedroom flat in Kensington renting for a pricey $2,150 per month. The price is almost double the $2,495 she received from a federal relief agency to cover two months’ rent. And the Kensington place is, at 1,200 square-feet, about half the size of her Rockaway home- not big enough for her family of five. Massoni will just have to keep looking.

She is not alone in her frustrating efforts to find an alternative living arrangement that does not involve sleeping on a friend’s pull-out bed or staying in a relative’s guest room or basement. Rental vacancies in Queens and Brooklyn are about 2 to 3 percent, a low number causing heartache for many displaced New Yorkers.

“It couldn’t be worse timing,” says Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc. in New York. The market in Brooklyn is tight partly because banks are reluctant to write mortgages, so few renters are buying a home and moving out, he said. With hotel occupancy rates at high levels, Miller said, “there are just not a lot of places to stay.”