New York’s basements, converted into residences accessible a few steps from the sidewalk at the foot of the buildings, have turned into horrific traps for dozens of residents drowning in their homes in the torrential rains of Storm Ida.
The famous “basements” of Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens are sometimes very primitive, and are shared — illegal or illegal — among low-income workers or students.
Conversely, what French real estate agents call a “souplex” may be the epitome of New York charm, appreciated by wealthy residents who nonetheless want to reduce the exorbitant cost of rentals.
Rich or poor, 11 people, including a two-year-old, drowned in their homes in the floods that hit Wednesday night. In the middle of the city, they were swallowed up in their homes, sometimes without windows, with only one exit door to the street. They are stuck due to the sudden and rapid rise of the water leaving them no chance.
The star of the left wing of the Democratic Party, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, elected from New York to the House of Representatives, on Wednesday evening, denounced the danger of living in a basement, in case of bad weather.
“Those who live in rented black basements and in poor security conditions are among the most vulnerable to flooding,” the political figure wrote on Twitter. She hit the nail on the head, emphasizing that “workers, immigrants and low-income families” are most at risk.
Moreover, the US Environmental Protection Agency, in a report, revealed by The Washington Post Thursday, denounced the fact that ethnic minorities in the United States will be hardest hit by climate change, especially in the event of flash floods.
according to The New York TimesThe victim’s route worker was an 86-year-old woman, who died in her home on Wednesday night, living in a building in Queens that has been the subject of complaints about the illegal exploitation of her basement.
This neighborhood in northeastern New York is home to a large number of immigrants, often undocumented workers from Latin America. One of them died there on Wednesday evening under the same circumstances.
The newspaper said a 66-year-old Ecuadorean man drowned in a windowless room in Brooklyn.
It would be 114,000 New Yorkers to live in illegal “basements” according to a 2008 study by the Pratt Center for Neighborhood Development, in a city of 8.8 million that gained 629,000 in ten years, after the last US census in August.
Scholars denouncing a form of omerta believe that rented basements for lions would be more numerous today.
The problem is that this housing is illegal, that there are potentially huge fines, that tenants need housing and landlords need income. “As a result, no one wants to talk about it,” Rebecca Morris of the Pratt Center told AFP.
For her colleague Nicole Gilinas, an economist at the Manhattan Institute Research Center, “landlords who illegally rent apartments for the cutbacks should be held accountable.”
But “there is such a crisis here, there is not enough housing,” laments Ms. Morris who does not believe in the oppression of unscrupulous landlords and other sleepovers.
For defenders of poor housing, the lack of minimal security conditions, particularly emergency exits, is really a problem.
A campaign is underway to create about 200,000 safe and affordable soups.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, an end-of-term Democrat, appealed to MSNBC Friday for a “program to move people who live in basements, in case of heavy rain and flooding.”
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