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Know Your Rights
Subject: Housing & Environmental Justice
Type: Media Coverage

Staten Island Clergy Leadership gathers to discuss housing after Hurricane Sandy

The Staten Island Clergy Leadership gathered at Temple Emanu-El in Port Richmond on Thursday to discuss housing needs two years after Hurricane Sandy.

“We are working to coordinate for providing assistance for 20 different groups and homeowners to create community resilience through stronger community ties, which will allow communities to bounce back quicker,” said Eric Williams, with the Association for Housing and Neighborhoods.

According to the Staten Island Interfaith and Community Long Term Recovery Organization’s needs assessment of Sandy-impacted residents on Staten Island, 35 percent surveyed between April and July still had needs remaining from the storm. In addition, out of nearly nearly 2,008 households that have reached out to recovery programs, only 709 have received assistance.

And according to research conducted by Make the Road New York, the median rent in the areas impacted by the storm increased $200 per month.

“Part of the problem is that landlords are getting limited funding from the government, so they have to either take a loan or take money out-of-pocket or make rents higher,” said senior organizer Melissa McCrumb of Make the Road New York. “We are not blaming the landlords, it is more of a systemic problem.”

To support the discussion, representatives of the organizations in attendance presented statistics and case studies of the housing situation in New York City, and other studies that were more focused toward Staten Island. In both cases it was agreed that the rate at which houses are being rebuilt is rather slow, and that the cost to homeowners can potentially be very large.

“There will be anticipated increases in flood insurance, which may reach up to $10,000 per year [for older, unelevated homes] — people can still build in flood zones, people just need to be aware of the risk involved,” said Williams.

Williams added that the city is “on the cusp of accelerating the recovery programs” by making more contractors available to execute recovery projects.

The meeting proceeded with additional discussions about how the government is planning to handle the next potential disaster, and what can be done to help displaced people within the area.

“It is up to us to decide what is going to happen in our communities, because we now what will happen if we don’t,” said Ms. McCrumb.

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