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Here comes Hurricane Bloomberg

ELINOR TATUM Publisher and Editor in Chief | 6/20/2013, 11:06 a.m.
When guidance counselors need to care

It is getting pretty disgusting to see the lengths that politicians and developers are going to to get real estate in New York for the exceedingly wealthy.

When this city was first being developed, housing projects and low-income housing were placed in the areas that were least desirable--the available areas that were dirty, rat-infested and laden with garbage. For the most part, that was New York City's waterfront. The East River was a cesspool. People had to be decontaminated if they fell into the toxic waters. No one wanted to live near the stench and the disease.

Ah, but now, the waterfront has been cleaned up. The river now has fish that do not have two heads. People are seen fishing off the piers, and children are running and playing in places that were almost condemned 30 years ago. So now that the parks have been created on the edges of the city and we have seen how desirable Battery Park has become as a luxury neighborhood 30 years later, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is trying to gentrify the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the same way, by creating more land and a new waterfront community under the guise of flood proofing.

Bloomberg has a plan to keep New York City "safe and dry" that will cost more than $20 billion. The new "city" would be called Seaport City and would pop up along the East River from 14th Street to the Brooklyn Bridge. In other parts of New York, such as Staten Island, 20-foot sea walls would be erected. But let's go back to Manhattan.

Between 14th Street and the Brooklyn Bridge, there are many major New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments that border the FDR drive and the East River. Baruch Houses, Campus Plaza, Alfred E. Smith Houses, LaGuardia Houses and Lillian Wald Houses all have some component near the water, and there are many more that dot New York's skyline. But with this new project of Bloomberg's to keep the city "safe and dry," what he actually may be doing is continuing to ghettoize the developments that are the only true low-income housing in New York.

While this plan, in Bloomberg's eyes, would save the city from storms such as Hurricane Sandy by creating a new anti-flood system, with hundreds of glass and steel luxury apartments rising above it, what does it relate to communities that are neglected by the city, those that lived next to the river when the river was toxic? The mayor says if we do nothing, we could be in for flooding on a regular basis, but he fails to disclose that his plan is merely making more room for the rich and pushing the poor to the wayside.

Protection from the vagaries of nature leaves the poor in the throes of Hurricane Bloomberg.

And to make a bad situation worse, NYCHA plans to lease out some of its parking lots and green spaces for luxury housing, and this may be like applying salt to the wound. But on the other hand, the NYCHA has also suffered a lot of cuts from the federal government due to the sequester, and this plan to lease is a way for NYCHA to fund the repairs of the developments that are so desperately needed. I am not saying it is a good idea or not; I am just asking the question, what are the alternatives?