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In the aftermath of Sandy, the destructive superstorm that had a devastating impact in New York City and other parts of the Northeastern U.S. in 2012, ideas and data proliferate about how coastal cities, such as New York, can pursue strategies of resilience to help withstand the next weather-related onslaught. This article argues that whether the city in fact acts resiliently must take into account the extent to which its proposals respond to the needs of vulnerable people housed along its coastline. Superstorm Sandy put a face to vulnerability, including 6,800 evacuees assigned to shelters, 1,800 of whom were residents of chronic care facilities located in flood zones. The vulnerable also included countless numbers of elderly and disabled people, and non-English speakers, who were stranded in New York City Housing Authority-owned buildings without electricity, heat, and hot water for weeks as a consequence of storm surges that flooded basement-level heating and electrical systems. Crucially, forty-five percent of the Housing AuthorityÕs buildings are located in evacuation zones near the waterfront; the siting of these buildings, and particularly their high- rise, tower-in-the-park design, reflect key features of mid-century housing policies informed by slum clearance goals, a post-World War II housing shortage, and considerations of cost.


This work was originally published in Idaho Law Review.

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