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Policy & Research INSIGHTS

Hurricane Sandy puts spotlight on City's most vulnerable

by Diana Scholl -  11/16/2012

Hurricane Sandy has left thousands of New York City residents without homes. How long these "temporarily" homeless will stay homeless is the question.

Last week, the City estimated that up to 40,000 New Yorkers could need shelter because of storm-related devastation, although the number will hopefully drop now that power is returning.

Even among those who lost their homes, people with safety nets that are relatively in tact will slowly rebuild and rebound from this disaster. But those already on the brink-- without money to supplement FEMA's emergency rental relief--will have a harder time. These are the "temporarily" homeless that could become longer-term homeless without support in place. As a recent ICPH report noted, New York City has a rental market where affordable housing is already scarce, and 47,783 people were already living in New York City's homeless shelters before Sandy hit.

It's sobering to note that as recently as this August, the homeless population in New Orleans was almost two-and-half times larger than before Hurricane Katrina.

While Sandy was no Katrina, today, as National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week is coming to a close, we should view New Orleans as a cautionary tale, and always be aware of those homeless both because of natural disasters that are in the news, and personal disasters unique to each family.

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