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Judge lifts order to keep NYC Sandy hotel program

NEW YORK — About 350 people made homeless by Superstorm Sandy could be kicked out of the New York City hotels they've been staying in after a judge lifted an injunction Friday that preserved the program.

The displaced residents who have been sleeping in city-funded hotel rooms since the late-October storm may be forced to find new housing by Monday, when federal funding for the program ends.

State Supreme Court Judge Margaret Chan sided with city lawyers Friday, lifting a May injunction that had protected the housing program that has served more than 3,000 refugees since the storm hit.

This week, city attorneys argued that the program must end after Monday, when the Federal Emergency Management Agency says it will stop reimbursing the city.

The city has spent more than $70 million on the program. Each room costs about $266 per night.

A spokeswoman for the Legal Aid Society, which represents plaintiffs who sued to keep the program running, did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday. It was unclear whether the Sandy refugees could appeal.

Only about 350 evacuees are left in the program, but housing advocates said many of them have no place else to go. The city said those who don't have other housing arrangements can apply to stay in one of the city's homeless shelters.

"It is true that plaintiffs have suffered much, and can do without another upheaval of moving into the shelter system," Chan wrote in the decision.

However, Chan wrote, the plaintiffs are only being displaced because there doesn't appear to be any legal justification to prevent FEMA from stopping its funding on Monday.

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