Response to Mayor Bloomberg’s Announcement of Federal Grants for Sandy Relief

February 6, 2013

Contact: Ilana Berger (347) 645-4255

Response to Mayor Bloomberg’s Announcement of Federal Grants for Sandy Relief

Joint Statement from: Members of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding (ALIGN-NY, The Coalition for the Homeless, Community Voices Heard, Good Jobs New York, Hunger Action Network of New York State, New York Communities for Change, Make the Road NY, Occupy Sandy, Pratt Center for Community Development, VOCAL-NY), Sandy Regional EJ Assembly and the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance

Today’s announcement from the Bloomberg Administration concerning the proposed used of its initial allocation of $1.77 billion in Federal Sandy Disaster Aid acknowledges that many New York neighborhoods and some of the city’s most vulnerable residents are still in dire straits after Hurricane Sandy.

While the City’s use of aid money must be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and requires community input, we are concerned that the Bloomberg Administration’s community input process to date sets an incredibly low bar for community participation in future allocation of Sandy related funds. Our organizations serve many of the city’s low-income and disenfranchised residents, including the communities most impacted by Sandy, and have been left out of this process. Many of our organizations and unions have been on the front lines in communities devastated by Sandy helping them access basic services, rebuilding homes and tackling emerging critical issues such as mold remediation. We want to bring these experiences to the decision-making table and help build plans for a fair rebuilding.

In the coming months and years, there will be billions of dollars in federal grants coming to New York City. If our city is to rebuild sustainably and equitably, members of the most impacted communities must have a voice in how federal dollars will be used. Therefore, we are calling on the Mayor to create a coordinated public engagement initiative that prioritizes democratic planning, transparency and accountability for the rest of the Community Development Block Grants expected to dollars that will come to the City. This includes:

· At least 30-days notice of hearings to respond to the city’s proposed plan to use the Sandy Disaster
Aid funds. Hearings should be held in the impacted communities, at times that enable residents, business owners, and workers to participate.

· Details of proposed plans, time and locations of community meetings, and an explanation of how New Yorkers can share ideas must be publicized widely and in a timely manner, through traditional media, and should also be consolidated in a website.

· Much like the response to the 2009 Recovery Act, the city and federal government must make available, in an accessible format, how disaster aid is expected to be spent, who received the funds, when and why. Examples to build from include NYCStat Stimulus Tracker and www.recovery.gov.

The Alliance for a Just Rebuilding brings together labor unions, workers centers and community, faithbased, environmental justice and policy organizations to ensure that both immediate relief and long-term
rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy are equitable and sustainable.

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