Today, the Brooklyn Recovery Fund and its Community Collaboratives released an extensive report on conditions in six coastal Brooklyn neighborhoods post-Superstorm Sandy, with urgent recommendations for government agencies on how to address persistent recovery challenges while building resiliency in partnership with local communities.
Brooklyn Communities Speak: An Action Guide for Local Decision-Makers Post Sandy was authored by the Brooklyn Recovery Fund’s founding institutions—the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce—in collaboration with the Red Hook Coalition, Coney Recovers, Empower Sheepshead RC, Gerritsen Beach Long Term Recovery Project, Canarsie Coalition, and Brighton Beach Housing Coalition. View the report here.
“Brooklyn’s coastal residents, small businesses, nonprofits, and volunteers have been deeply involved on the frontlines of Sandy recovery since day one. They have invaluable knowledge about what has worked and what hasn’t—and what should be done to make their communities stronger,” said Brooklyn Community Foundation President Cecilia Clarke. “With this report, we want to send a resounding message to City Hall and Washington that the recovery is far from over, but in order to move ahead and succeed, local stakeholders need to be heard, engaged, and empowered in the rebuilding of their communities.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams added, “The Sandy-impacted communities of Brooklyn are still hurting more than a year after the storm left our shores. This report, a collaboration which Borough Hall was proud to take part in as a partner in the Brooklyn Recovery Fund, documents the ongoing challenges faced by the residents of Brighton Beach, Canarsie, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook and Sheepshead Bay. Its recommendations will serve as a good primer for the important recovery and resiliency work that we in government will need to undertake in the months and years ahead.”
The report is a thorough documentation of the storm’s affects and the recovery process in Brooklyn, by neighborhood, covering the issues of Housing and Rebuilding, Health, Immigrant and Undocumented Communities, Businesses and Jobs, and Infrastructure. Each section offers commentary and specific recommendations for improvement from community members, data points, and examples of promising solutions.
- Housing: Create a pathway for homeowners citywide to legalize basement apartments and bring them up to code without hikes in property taxes.
- Health: Establish a voluntary “patient census” of residents who, based on medical need, want to be contacted in their homes in the event of a disaster, such as people on life support, with disabilities, stringent medical needs, serious chronic conditions, and senior citizens.
- Immigrant and Undocumented Communities: Alter Build it Back’s Temporary Disaster Assistance Program (TDAP), which provides housing vouchers for low-income renters impacted by Sandy, to include undocumented immigrants.
- Businesses and Jobs: Modify disaster-related loan programs to cover business interruption, minimize the amount of paperwork required for loan application, and increase grant opportunities.
- Infrastructure: Establish a clear system of communication for agencies at the federal, state, and local level, such as a coordinating task force, that includes the impacted communities to ensure that changes in infrastructure happen in the least disruptive and most efficient way possible.
“Brooklyn’s coastal communities were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy so it is important that we put forth ways to tackle issues that continue to affect these communities,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President & CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Small businesses were particularly hit hard so it is vital for the economy and the well-being of these communities that we continue to work with our partners at the City, State and Federal levels. Rebuilding these impacted communities has always been my No. 1 priority and the priority of the Brooklyn Recovery Fund. Thank you to the Brooklyn Community Foundation and the Borough President’s Office for their work on this very important issue. As these communities continue to rebound, the Brooklyn Chamber and our partners will make sure that small businesses, jobs and infrastructure repair remain a focus of the rebuilding process. Immigrant businesses, in particular, have suffered the worst hardship because they have struggled to produce the paperwork necessary to apply for grants and loans. The Brooklyn Chamber will continue to fight for them as we continue to rebuild Brooklyn bigger and better than before.”
New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca added, “I commend the leadership of each of the partners who convened the Brooklyn Recovery Fund immediately after Superstorm Sandy. This report reflects the voice of community-led collaboratives who are often neglected in policy. As a member of the newly created Rebuilding and Resiliency Committee in the NYC Council chaired by Council Member Mark Treyger of Brooklyn, this document will immediately serve as a guide with specific action items we can take to our city agencies. I look forward to continuing to provide support to each of these Brooklyn collaboratives as we continue to rebuild our coastal communities.”
About Brooklyn Community Foundation
Brooklyn Community Foundation is dedicated to improving lives and strengthening communities through local giving, grantmaking, and community service. Established in 2009 as the first and only charitable foundation for New York City’s largest borough, the Foundation has granted nearly $20 million in partnership with generous donors to address critical community needs and advance innovative nonprofit programs. In response to Superstorm Sandy’s devastating impact in Brooklyn’s coastal neighborhoods, the Foundation launched the Brooklyn Recovery Fund. To date, more than $3.5 million has aided families and small businesses through the efforts of over 100 community-based organizations. Learn more at www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org.