By New York City Council Progressives (Contact)
To be delivered to: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
The past few weeks have been deeply trying ones for New Yorkers, with scores of lives and thousands of homes lost. The storm exposed not only our vulnerability as a city, but widespread inequality as well. Wall Street reopened one day after the storm, but many in public housing waited three weeks for heat, and many others remain without adequate shelter.
But we’ve also seen extraordinary acts of generosity and courage, as people have come together to provide food, blankets, money, helping hands, comfort, and hope on an incredible scale.
As we turn from relief to recovery, we face a stark choice. Will we simply rebuild what was there before – a city riven by inequality and poverty, vulnerable to climate change, with government decisions too often driven by corporate interests rather than the public interest?
Or will we build on the remarkable spirit of organized compassion we’ve seen – to try to create a city where everyone is protected, and no one is homeless? Will we rebuild two cities, or one?
Mayor Bloomberg should make this a recovery that genuinely works for everyone. Let’s rebuild by creating forward-thinking infrastructure and good jobs, while including residents in the decisions about the future of their communities.
After Hurricane Katrina, rebuilding policies focused on corporate tax breaks rather than public housing. Here in New York, the 9/11 recovery ensured a resurgent Wall Street, but created a Lower Manhattan that was even less affordable for most New Yorkers.
We must invest significant public resources to rebuild our city and create the sustainable infrastructure we need. While we do that, we must also insure genuine economic opportunities, affordable housing, a healthier and safer city for everyone.
Let’s reject a trickle-down recovery. Mayor Bloomberg should invest in New Yorkers and their neighborhoods, so New York City’s recovery creates a more sustainable, equal, and democratic New York.
• A more sustainable recovery will invest in infrastructure we needed long before Sandy - like neighborhoods and environmental systems that are sustainable in the long term and help protect New York from extreme weather. We need to focus on preventing climate change by expanding our mass transit system, promoting energy efficiency and green buildings, and accelerating regional alternative energy projects like solar, tidal power and wind farms.
• A more equal recovery will create good jobs for those impacted by the storm. Let’s make sure that publicly-funded rebuilding jobs go to low-income communities, and pay workers enough to lift them out of poverty. And let’s not just rehouse people made homeless by the hurricane – but also the 46,000 people who were in NYC homeless shelters before Sandy.
• A more democratic recovery will empower regular New Yorkers – especially those in hard-hit communities – to help envision the city we rebuild, so that rebuilding creates stronger neighborhoods and doesn’t concentrate risks in low-income communities. We should strengthen the community organizations that were first on the ground in Hurricane Sandy’s hardest-hit neighborhoods, giving them a central role in rebuilding their neighborhoods and setting them up to be even stronger in the next crisis.
Hurricane Sandy can be an opportunity, to rebuild a more sustainable, more equal, more democratic New York City.
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