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4 Months Later, the Poor Are Still Suffering Disproportionately From Sandy

4 Months Later, the Poor Are Still Suffering Disproportionately From Sandy
Reuters

When Superstorm Sandy hit last October, its surge reached a whopping 760,000 buildings, or nearly 10 percent of New York City's homes. Four months later, we're starting to get a clearer picture of the impact on the city's housing stock.

Four percent of households, or 150,000 homes, have applied to FEMA for help paying for repairs, replacement housing, or other costs. And unfortunately, the poor and working class are disproportionately well represented.

According to a report released by the Furman Center this week, 68 percent of the renters who applied to FEMA were families earning less than $30,000 a year. A third of all homeowners applying also earned less than $30,000 a year. This is much higher than in the city overall, where 41.6 percent of renters and 16.9 percent of owners earn less than $30,000 a year. The median income of FEMA applicants was $82,000 for owners and $18,000 for renters.

The report explains that these families are at risk of being priced out of the city altogether. They write:

Given the extremely low incomes of the renters claiming damages, they are particularly at-risk of being unable to locate new housing that is affordable to them. In normal times, the overall amount of housing affordable to these households is limited – indeed, just 22 percent of rental units in New York City are affordable to households whose annual income is below $30,000. Finding replacement housing for these families is likely to be a long-term challenge for New York City if they cannot stay in their homes.

The storm has also worsened New York's already tight affordable housing market. Almost half of the units impacted by Sandy were low-income, rent-stabilized, or Mitchell-Lama houses.

Public housing was particularly hard hit -- all told 402 buildings with 35,000 units were damaged, "more public housing units than the entire stock of any other public housing authority in the country." Below, this map overlays the storm surge with NYHCA properties:

Just 10 percent of single family homes were reached by the storm surge.
 

Amanda Erickson is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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