Sandy survivors rally for recovery equity at City Hall
Dozens of Sandy survivors and community activists held a rally Wednesday, calling on mayoral candidates to adopt their plan for rebuilding in the areas hardest hit by the storm.
“To most of New York City, Hurricane Sandy is a distant memory,” said Nathalie Alegre, coordinator for the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, a coalition of Sandy survivors and community, labor and environmental organizations.
The alliance marched from Staten Island Ferry Terminal to City Hall, where they presented a four-point rebuilding plan for the next administration.
The plan calls for the next mayor to create local rebuilding jobs, restore lost affordable housing, invest in sustainable energy infrastructure and engage communities throughout the recovery process.
“If you want to be mayor of New York City, you need to put the most vulnerable first,” Alegre said.
Sandy survivor Florencia Olea, a 17-year resident of Long Island, teared up as she explained that rent in Midland Beach was $1,100 a month before the storm. Now, sharing three bedrooms with seven other people, rent is $1,600.
“Because of the increased rent and the scarce work, I’ve had to cut back on all of the family expenses,” said the 41-year-old house cleaner through a Spanish translator. “The little girls don’t have birthday parties.”
Vernell Robinson said conditions at Carleton Manor, a housing project in Far Rockaway, Queens, were bad before the storm.
“The city will forget us again,” said Robinson, 50, asking residents to stay vocal.
Nastaran Mohit, an Occupy Sandy leader, said there is little accountability with current recovery funds.
“A lot of these decisions are made behind closed doors,” Mohit said, noting the most-affected areas should get priority for relief.
While the groups noted the poorest communities were most affected by the storm, recovery volunteer Ilya Jalal said that doesn’t let candidates trying to court the middle-class vote off the hook.
“The so-called middle class was affected,” said the 26-year-old Midland Beach resident.
Olea said she just wants to the candidates to consider to families still going through Sandy recovery.
“Something has to change, because I can’t stand living like this,” Olea said.
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