AMITYVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Two campers just over 400 square feet sit in Carmen Powell’s backyard, behind a fence on a dead end street in Amityville.
She sleeps in one, her nephew and niece–displaced from Hurricane Maria, in the other.
“They were here in October living in a room they were not allowed to use the bathroom, only once a day… I as a mother gave up my home for my children,” said Amityville resident Carmen Powell.
After the hurricane in October, Powell brought her 84-year-old mother, her daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren, just 4 and 5 years old, over to Amityville.
They live upstairs, and tenants live downstairs–income she needs to rebuild their home in Puerto Rico.
“We’re trying to figure out another solution. This was an emergency solution. It’s not like I want to be living in a camper at my age,” said Powell.
Powell says she had seen campers on other homeowners’ properties in the village. She didn’t know you needed a permit until a code enforcement officer came by in June.
So she paid a fee over $500 to get a one-year permit for the campers. Dozens of neighbors even signed a petition supporting it, but some have concerns.
“There’s going to be sewage issues, there’s going to be electrical issues, she’s got extension cords running out there, which is a fire hazard–20 minutes all three houses can be gone,” said neighbor Pete Pappas.
Powell says the family does not use the bathroom or cook in the campers. The latest inspection from a code enforcement showed no major violations of the state’s property maintenance code which would create a concern for life and safety.
“It is unattractive, but then again it is her yard so it doesn’t bother me,” said neighbor Yolanda’s Lambert.
The mayor, reached by phone, says he and the village board of trustees are scheduled to vote on the permit August 13.
“I just want to find out more information on it and find out how safe trailers are. I have the humanitarian side of it where I do want to help the people out the best I can,” said Mayor Dennis Siry.
The head of the local Bay Village Civic Association wouldn’t go on camera but said they’re worried it’ll set a precedent for other emergencies. Yet, Powell says she saw the trailers in times of need during hurricane sandy, and she’s now spending thousands to get the family back on their feet.
Powell says that she can’t make the August vote because she’ll be in Puerto Rico rebuilding.
The mayor says he’s waiting to hear from Governor Cuomo’s office about financial aid for the family.