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De Blasio: No Funds For Housing For Puerto Ricans Coming To New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Life after Hurricane Maria for thousands of Puerto Ricans could mean a new life in New York City.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Mayor Bill de Blasio said there will be health and educational support. But he said finding a place to stay is up to those who arrive.

It was only a few weeks ago that Mayor de Blasio walked to a Brooklyn firehouse to donate diapers to people in Puerto Rico who were devastated by Hurricane Maria. And while the city certainly intends to help the displaced, there is a limit – they will have to stay with family members because the city will not provide housing.

Kramer asked de Blasio what if they are to do if they come to New York and do not have family – and whether they will have to stay in hotels or whether affordable housing might be allotted. She asked if the city has any money available if Puerto Ricans coming to New York need any financial assistance.

"Marcia, we do not have that plan, and I don't want to encourage people to come here if they don't have some family to turn to," de Blasio said. "I think we have to be really clear about that."

With the numbers of homeless now at 60,350, the mayor said there is simply no place to put people fleeing the damage caused by the storm.

"This is a city, right now, it's ready to do anything and everything for people who come here," de Blasio said. "But we are also clear that we have tremendous strains we're dealing with right now, and housing is our number one."

That position puts the mayor on a possible collision course with city Public Advocate Letitia James, who unveiled a plan for helping the displaced that includes having the city designating temporary housing, identifying senior housing options, providing city-funded cash resettlement funds, and also providing free MetroCards for six months.

Told of de Blasio's remarks, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said: "The New York City Council will use every tool at our disposal to help support Puerto Rico's displaced refugees."

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña said the Department of Education would find space for any kids who come to New York.

"We're prepared. We will put up whatever we need to as a resource," she said. "We have made a big list of what we anticipate."

Officials said they will not know how many people to expect until transportation is up and running in Puerto Rico, and people can get flights to New York. That could take a month or more.

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