Figueroa-Levin: Sandy homeless don't belong in city shelters
It's hard to believe that superstorm Sandy was almost a year ago. Fallen trees have been cleared away, damaged homes have been repaired and power long ago restored. For most of us, Sandy is over -- an almost-distant memory of a hardship that we as a city overcame.
For some people, however, the nightmare of Sandy is still going on. And for about 300 New Yorkers who have been living in city-funded hotel rooms, Sandy is about to get worse. Now that a judge has lifted an injunction that had been forcing the city to keep the Hotel and Interim Placement Program going, the city will be kicking these people out of their hotel rooms and booting them to homeless shelters.
Maybe this would be less infuriating if there weren't still houses to be rebuilt or buildings to be repaired. Insurance issues and new building codes have delayed the work in some cases. There are houses where construction hasn't yet started.
Maybe if our shelter system weren't overcrowded, underfunded and often unsafe, moving still-displaced Sandy victims there wouldn't be as bad. Perhaps if our mayor didn't act like homeless shelters were five-star luxury suites that people would rather stay in over other housing, the city would try to find another option for Sandy-displaced residents who are still in hotels.
People aren't living in hotels because they want to be there. People are living in hotels because they can't live in their homes.
Many of the homes that still need repairs are in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. The "outer" boroughs are just as much a part of the city as the "inner" one, and just as vital. Manhattan doesn't work without people from Staten Island and Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx coming here to help make it work.
We can't pat ourselves on the back for fixing the city when so much of the city still needs fixing. We need to finish repairing and rebuilding. The people being kicked out of hotel rooms a year after the storm shouldn't be going to homeless shelters. They should be going home.
Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @Jewyorican, @EveryGentrifier and @ElBloombito.