“It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re squatting where someone has electricity and heat. They’re going to whatever homes they can open the door and sit,” said Donna Graziano who runs a relief center in New Dorp Beach.
Graziano said some of the squatters have tried to get a hot meal in the center, and she’s turned them away.
“They’re using drugs and alcohol and stuff like that. That’s the type of squatters we’re seeing,” Graziano said.
Families forced out of their homes can’t stomach the thought of squatters moving in.
“If I was to learn that someone was squatting in my home that I’m not able to live in right now, it would add insult to injury,” said Sandy victim Lorraine Gonzalez. “They’re a danger to my neighbors.”
As the residents get warmer, residents expect the problem to get worse, and they’re calling for a greater police presence. Civic groups are urging people to check on their vacant homes more frequently.