Kevin Cordova's family tried cooking hot food to stay warm. They wore their winter coats inside and buried themselves under blankets.
But on Sunday, six days after powerful winds from Superstorm Sandy knocked out their power, temperatures dipped so low they couldn't spend another night in their home in Floral Park, New York.
"There's really no amount of blankets that can stop you from being cold in 30-degree weather," said Cordova, 28. "We feel a little homeless right now. We have our house, but we can't really use it."
Officials say thousands of New Yorkers left without heat after Superstorm Sandy might need to leave their homes as temperatures plummet, but it's not clear where they'll go.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 people in New York City could need housing, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sunday. Officials are working on coming up with a solution, he said, but they haven't yet.
"We don't have a lot of empty housing in this city," he said. "We are not going to let anybody go sleeping in the streets. We're not going to let anybody go without blankets, food and water, but it's a challenge and we're working on that."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo described it as a "massive housing problem."
"People are in homes that are uninhabitable," Cuomo told reporters. "It's going to become increasingly clear that they're uninhabitable when the temperature drops and the heat doesn't come on."
In Long Island's Nassau County, where 266,000 customers were still without power Sunday, some people have died while trying to heat their homes with propane grills and other improvised methods, County Administrator Edward Mangano said Sunday.
"We've very concerned about people sheltering in places without proper heat," he said.
Utility officials warned some residents that it could take until Wednesday for power to be restored, Cordova said. The freelance editor said his family was grateful their house survived the storm, but they're unsure of what to do if their power stays out much longer. On Sunday night, his family planned to stay with friends.
"We're all staying in different houses," he said, "but I don't know how long we can keep that up."
More than 10,000 people across nine states spent Saturday night in shelters, American Red Cross spokeswoman Attie Poirier said. The Red Cross is sending 80,000 blankets to the region ahead of colder weather predicted this week.
"As we move through energy and gasoline, housing is really the No. 1 concern," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who spoke in Hoboken, New Jersey.
"And we don't even know yet which of the houses are reparable and which are irreparable losses. Those assessments are going on right now, as well as finding temporary housing for individuals who can't move back to their home right away."
As of Sunday, roughly 182,000 people in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York had applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has approved more than $158 million in aid.
In her apartment in Yonkers, New York, Julie Munn huddled under the covers, watching her breath in the air before she went to sleep. Her 6-month-old cat, Sheldon, got skittish, trying to crawl under things to keep warm.
"It got so cold that I left Saturday morning," she said. "It was the same temperature inside the apartment as it was outside."
Munn, 25, who stayed at her parents' house, got word that her power came back Sunday.
But many others were still in limbo.