I Spent the 2015 Blizzard with New York’s Homeless
I met Alberto Lora at our last stop Monday night, outside the public plaza at the Sony building, on 55th Street and Madison Avenue, as he waited in line for whatever was left of the food being handed out by the Coalition for the Homeless workers. As the streets emptied, and the blizzard settled in, Lora described how New York City’s homelessness crisis is only getting worse. “The cops don’t know what to do with us anymore,” he told me. “The subways are packed at night with people sleeping like me. It’s a major resource for us, so without it, I don’t know what to do.”
“Why is it like this here? In this country?” he asked. “This storm is going to be bad for some people. Real bad.”
Lora had learned about the storm the night before, from a video billboard in Times Square. “This will most likely be one of the largest blizzards in the history of New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio had announced from above. To Lora, a 42-year-old homeless man, it meant one thing: “I’ve gotta find somewhere to sleep.”
Thousands of other New Yorkers were in the same spot: Stuck in what was supposed to be a historic blizzard, with nowhere to go. The number of homeless people in New York City has ballooned in the last decade, with roughly 60,000 people sleeping in shelters on a given night, and thousands more living on the streets.