Hurricane Sandy hit New York City hard, along with neighboring areas such as New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and others. Although the storm took place in October 2012, many New Yorkers are still struggling to recover from the destruction and devastation Sandy caused. New York City has drafted a deadline for Sandy victims to move out of their short-term hotel rooms by April 30, 2013. After losing nearly everything, this is another setback for Sandy victims because they are dependent on the city to provide shelter, and now they are threatened with the possibility of becoming homeless once again.
Now is not the time to cut back — people want to resume their lives, relocate or rebuild their homes again and get back to normal. The city should be working more diligently in its efforts to help Sandy victims get back on their feet. Instead, it is taking an inconsiderate standpoint against victims who survived one of the worst natural disasters in American history.
Suffering continues for victims living in the Big Apple. People are still doubling up in hotel rooms and fighting with insurance companies and the city to cover housing expenses. Families are still displaced without roofs over their heads and relocating to overcrowded city shelters as the road to recovery sluggishly continues. The city and the nation have had seven months to help Sandy victims, but now the city’s deadline has passed and people are still homeless. Why are New Yorkers in particular still suffering from Sandy’s repercussions, considering we are one of the richest cities in the world? What is still causing hardships at this point?
Homelessness is a humanitarian issue — people are recovering from a crisis because of this destructive storm. Our government wars with other countries for the same humanitarian cause all the time, but it is not doing enough for its own citizens at a time of despair when it is needed the most. This is ridiculous, especially bearing in mind that America’s defense budget, which is nearly a trillion dollars, is spent on wars overseas that harm people and destroy families. Keep in mind that New Yorkers are still experiencing a recession: The state’s unemployment rate is a high 8.5 percent, denoting that over 700,000 residents are unemployed and less than half of them receive unemployment insurance payments.
The mishandling of Sandy and its victims by New York City is just one example of how budgets reflect distorted priorities. For less than 2 percent of the estimated military defense budget spent thus far, every New Yorker affected by Sandy could have received adequate shelter, food and other essential supplies that would have put them on track to a speedy recovery. On a broader level, if we cut back on military defense spending and other misappropriated deficits, we would have more money for a more frugal, productive economy and could secure resources to combat disastrous situations whenever they unfold, so that America remains a true democracy that takes care of all its citizens in challenging times. The things we spend the most time or money on reflects what is most important to us.
David Wyche is a contributing columnist. Email him at [email protected]