Sandy’s Anniversary: More homelessness to come?

Six months ago, Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast. As Sandy’s forceful winds blew and lifted waves in its path, entire neighbourhoods were torn apart as homes and lives blew away.

Hurricane Sandy AftermathSince then, we’ve seen the best of government: New York and New Jersey’s respective governors, Andrew Cuomo (D) and Chris Christie (R) working hand in hand with President Obama to survey the damage, form assessments and get the wheels turning to expedite aid to displaces families. We’ve also seen the worst of government: at the time, Congress saw fit to play partisan politics and withhold aid to the states — somehow ‘forgetting’ that when their states were badly damaged by storms, oil spills and other disasters, political wrangling and pettiness was the least of anyone’s concerns as the recognised priority was that citizens lives had to be put back together.

The aid package was approved (finally, and in two parts…lest anyone think Congress had gone soft) despite strong opposition from congressional Republicans. But since then, despite fundraising concerts, private donations, grass roots activism and the like, the pressure on the families affected hasn’t eased up. The Commissioner of the Department of Homeless Services in New York is being asked to extend the April 30, 2013 deadline for housing for the displaced families.

After Sandy destroyed homes, families were relocated to FEMA trailers and others were moved to hotels. Those families are still in dire need of long-term affordable housing, hoping to not to be thrown out into the streets for the second time since the storm.  What those families now need is a simple extension of the April 30th deadline until all displaced families are placed into apartments that they can afford.

This morning, governor Christie praised President Obama and said that the President delivered on his promises – so it seems odd that local officials won’t do the same. An arbitrary deadline set by the Department of Homeless Services could result in victims losing their homes for a second time.

It’s unreal that having people put out of their home, again, is even a consideration.

We can do better.

 

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Image Source: Greenpeace.org