The first allocations of the $50.5 billion in federal Hurricane Sandy relief aid, approved late last month, are headed the Northeast’s way. The announcements were welcome news to people still struggling in Sandy’s aftermath, but if policymakers aren’t careful, they could bungle relief efforts in ways we haven’t seen since Hurricane Katrina.
Sandy affected people across the economic spectrum, from owners of multimillion dollar homes on the Jersey Shore to public housing residents in Red Hook, Brooklyn. But history and logic suggest that those already hanging on the margins — low-income residents, including many in communities of color — are most in need of federal support.
These communities have the least; yet, paradoxically, they could lose the most in the recovery as many learned during recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast after Katrina.