The Rockaway Peninsula in Queens was among the areas the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. With damage ranging from total destruction of homes and businesses to power outages and disruptions to public transportation, the impacts to this area are hard felt – particularly among low-income residents and working class community members. With 20 percent of Rockaway Peninsula’s population living below poverty level, most of them in Far Rockaway, the families here were already struggling with unemployment, underemployment and lack of housing before the hurricane struck. The storm exacerbated the situation for these community members.
Faith in New York, along with our allies in the Alliance for a Just Rebuidling, worked to assure not only that people’s immediate needs were met in the aftermath, but that the more than $30 billion flowing into New York city for recovery and resiliency was used to address many of the longstanding issues of racial and economic disparity in the Rockaways and other Sandy impacted communities.
Click here to see Faith in New York former Executive Director Joseph McKellar speak at the North Star Fund sponsored forum at the Talking Transitions tent “From the Edge of Disaster: How Activists and Insiders Can Use the Lessons of Hurricane Sandy to Make the City Safer”
Surveyed and held relational outreach interviews with over 600 victims of Sandy, hosted volunteer canvassing days, and met with 18 elected officials, which resulted in Faith in New York and the PICO National Network’s research report “Stepping into the Breach: A Community driven strategy for equitable recovery and rebuilding in New York’s hardest hit neighborhoods” and helped to inform the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding’s report “Sandy’s Mold Legacy: The Unmet Need 6 Months After the Storm.”
December 10, 2013: “Shining the Light on the Rockaways: A Community Forum” which was attended by 750 community members, 60+ clergy, and 7 elected officials to lift up the voices of the Sandy victims and their immediate needs
July 29 2014: Faith and Community forum at The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York with over 1600 people of faith in attendance, where we laid out our platform for an equitable Sandy rebuild, & to urge the de Blasio administration to rebuild our communities through local hire. Attendees included Amy Peterson Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, Public Advocate Letitia James, Commissioner Nisha Agarwal of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Councilman Carlos Menchaca, Councilman Donovan Richards and Councilman Mark Treyger.
October 15, 2014: Our key clergy and lay-leaders met with Mayor de Blasio in Far Rockaway to discuss the Hurricane Sandy rebuild, local hire legislation and climate jobs.
October 15, 2014: Hurricane Sandy Recovery Opportunity and Resource Fair, hosted alongside Mayor Bill de Blasio to connect over 700 Sandy Survivors and unemployed New Yorkers in Far Rockaway with over 50 government agencies, businesses, and organizations providing career opportunities, job training, union apprenticeships, recovery and community resources to Sandy-impacted New Yorkers.
October 29, 2015, Sandy 3 Year Anniversary March & Forum at St. Mary’s Star of the Sea attended by elected officials and more than 350 community members to lift up on-going needs and improved implementation of the Sandy Build it Back local hiring program.
April to September 2016: Congregational outreach in the Rockaway peninsula & Coney Island to provide information regarding Build it Back local hiring program, including program enrollment assistance.
Creation of the $16 million (2,000 homes) Neighborhood Revitalization NYC Mold Treatment Program that will remove mold for free from Hurricane Sandy victims’ homes
Securing a pledge of $1.2 million in emergency relief funds for undocumented Sandy victims from the NYC Commission on Immigrant Affairs
Speeding up of the Rapid Repair Program so that people could move back safely into their homes
Creation of the Rockaways Economic Advancement Initiative, a collaboration with SBS, NYCHA, CEO, and Citi Community Development that invested $1.1 million in 2014 to expand place-based economic empowerment and mobility and connect Far Rockaway residents to high-quality, full-time employment
The Sandy rebuilding procurement contracts released during the week of December 8, 2014 fulfilled Faith in New York’s asks during our Faith and Community Forum on July 29, 2014 for increased local hire and economic support for Sandy survivors. The procurement contracts include:
- Local hiring standards that will impact contracts covering upwards of $750 million worth of reconstruction work
- $250 million being redirected from the Bloomberg business innovations process to provide housing assistance to ALL residents that will be out of their homes for more than 60 days during construction
- Procurement contracts which will create pathways for Sandy impacted persons to gain training and employment in rebuilding their communities via Workforce One and direct entry into unions
- New contracts that will be tied into existing union Project Labor Agreements – all work will be done by union workers with union wages and benefits
- A goal of 20% of all work being done by residents living in “Sandy impacted neighborhoods”
- Daily tracking and monitoring of payroll to ensure that all contractors are complying with federal guidelines for workforce development and the 20% goal of a Sandy-impacted labor force.
- A national precedent of using HUD Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery for workforce development and training
- The extension of TDAP housing vouchers from 2 years to 4 years
Thousands of jobs have been created from our advocacy work, and be tracked using the Sandy Tracker website which was a major victory for transparency and accountability in Sandy recovery spending of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding