2013-04-19 / Top Stories

Report - NYC Sandy Rebuilding Flawed

The Alliance for a Just Rebuilding (AJR), a citywide “coalition of community, faith, labor, environmental and policy organizations,” released a new report which, according to the group, exposes major flaws in the City’s Action Plan for Disaster Recovery and Sandy rebuilding effort.

The report, titled “After Sandy, Prioritizing the Vulnerable and Displaced: Fixing Major Flaws in City Hall’s Disaster Planning,” is the first of its kind to gather together the latest evidence, data, and analysis from communities hit hardest by Sandy, according to the group. It also proposes viable solutions for Mayor Bloomberg and the 2013 mayoral candidates to adopt.

In a recent media release, AJR states the report “examines the City’s actions and responses on housing assistance for displaced low-income families and undocumented immigrants; the loss of affordable housing; mold remediation; necessary repairs for renters and homeowners; small business assistance; NYCHA resiliency; job creation; public hospitals; local energy supply; and mass transit.”

Some of AJR’s key findings conclude that there has been  No official estimate of the total number of displaced City residents who need disaster housing assistance but haven’t yet been able to register for it or gain access to it;

 Little assistance for low-income families facing eviction from city hotels on April 30th, and for undocumented immigrants potentially excluded from rental housing vouchers;

 A severe undercount of the affordable housing lost during Sandy, especially tens of thousands of unregistered units and basement apartments located in the flood zone;

 The city’s privately-funded mold remediation program will only reach 2,000 homes out of 80,000 that were flooded, and thousands of residents still struggling with mold don’t even know that the program exists;

 Limited resources available to lowincome tenants and homeowners for repairs, and small businesses must compete unfairly for resources instead of getting direct assistance;

 Lack of attention to the storm-readiness and resiliency of NYCHA developments, where horrific scenes of freezing darkness, isolation and neglect unfolded after Sandy;

 Inadequate focus on ensuring that jobs created with federal funds meet local hiring, prevailing wage, health and safety standards, and federal guidelines for hiring NYCHA residents;

 Lack of planning to help public hospitals evacuated during Sandy recover lost revenue and become strong enough to remain open in future disasters and provide urgent care;

 Lack of focus on reducing dependence on the unstable power grid controlled by Con Edison, and enabling local communities to become more energy independent;

 Insufficient attention to the fact that “transit deserts” such as Red Hook, Coney Island, the Rockaways, and Staten Island, were already underserved long before Sandy hit, and cannot rebuild without real long-term investment in expanded transit service.

Referring to the findings, Deputy Director of New York Communities for Change, Amelia Adams, commented, “The rebuilding process will affect our future for years to come. Whoever succeeds Bloomberg at City Hall will only get rebuilding right by putting more viewpoints from the hardest-hit communities at the center of policymaking. Vulnerable and displaced residents deserve more influence over the rebuilding of what Sandy destroyed,”

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AJR will be using hashtag #rebuildajustny on Twitter to highlight key findings of the report, and recommendations for how to improve Sandy rebuilding.

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