Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Happened to the 50,000 Homeless in NYC During Hurricane Sandy?

Sunny Bjerk

What Happened to the 50,000 Homeless in NYC During Hurricane Sandy?

With the mess of Hurricane Sandy in New York City over the last few days, we have been hearing a lot about mandatory evacuations for people in Zone A: areas in Staten Island, lower Manhattan, and eastern Brooklyn (Red Hook and Greenpoint especially). To meet the needs of these Sandy evacuees, Bloomberg opened 65 additional shelters across the five boroughs, stocking these makeshift shelters—high schools, middle schools, etc.—with food, water, blankets, and pet food.
The strongest part of this evacuation plan is that it’s a piece of a larger puzzle, and that these shelters are only a detour until these people can return to their homes. But for the 50,000 people in New York City who are homeless and need shelter every night, they simply are not given the same thought-out consideration or planning, at least not outside of weather emergencies. Certainly, we must commend those who were on the front line of the storm over the last few nights, reaching out to the homeless across New York City and even into New Jersey (well done, Cory Booker) and encouraging them to seek shelter, but where’s the same outreach and energy on an average NYC night? Where is the long-term solution for the population that is the same as Hempstead, NY?
Think about it. Like the Sandy evacuees, the ever-increasing homeless population in the city was met with the same solution: open more shelters. And that’s exactly what Bloomberg and Co. did, opening roughly 10 in the last few months. But where’s the same long-term consideration or planning for the city’s homeless? Expanding the city’s emergency shelter system, which typically have limits on stays and that homeless people avoid due to sexual assaults and drug use, without a long-term plan for the homeless population is like putting a Band-Aid on a growing wound. It may hide the problem for a little while, but it certainly doesn’t address the severity of the wound. And unless the city is thinking of pushing FEPSapplications a little faster, or reinstating the Advantage Subsidy program, the city, Bloomberg, and social service organizations can expect a steady increase in the rise of the homeless across the city.
Insert your own scoff here.
While we must be thankful that our city was able to provide shelter to those made vulnerable by Hurricane Sandy, but we must also remember that 50,000 people, regardless of weather, seek shelter every night in the city, without any long-term plan in sight, and whose vulnerability is made apparent day-in and day-out.

We cannot let the city’s homeless population continue to remain politically or socially invisible.Help Us Transmit This Story

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