For most of us, the worst part of the blizzard was mild cabin fever. But for homeless people, it was potentially life-threatening. When you don’t know where you’re going to sleep at night, that issue is aggravated by extreme weather conditions that make transport difficult and treacherous.
The second-worst blizzard in city history is over, but its effects on the homeless population will be felt for some time. Here are a few ways you can help make homeless New Yorkers’ lives a little bit better in the coming days.
In a sad sign of the city’s housing crisis, a disturbing new survey estimates a whopping 200,000 low-income New York senior citizens are stuck on waiting lists for subsidized housing — with an average wait of seven long years.
Some of the seniors, who are typically low- to moderate-income and include those with disabilities, have been waiting as long as 10 years, according to the LiveOn NY survey of senior housing subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Fernando Lopez is ready to die. It’s a bitter-cold Saturday morning, just before dawn, and Lopez is trudging along Lexington Avenue, his shoulders hunched and hands jammed into his pants pockets in a determined effort to stay warm. He has been up since just after 4 a.m., when a stiff breeze jolted him awake in the subway station at East 51st Street. Lopez had been sleeping upright on a hard wooden bench, eight steps up from the 6 train platform, just past the turnstiles. Air gushing in from the tunnels makes it feel even colder by the tracks, which is why he settles a level higher. When you live outdoors, though, you’re never really sheltered.