Faith In New York and the Alliance For A Just Rebuilding held a Sandy recovery forum Tuesday evening. Government officials participating included Amy Peterson, Director of the Office of Housing Recovery, Public Advocate Tish James, Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal and Council Members Donovan Richards, Mark Treyger and Carlos Menchaca.
While not ignoring individual homeowners and their rebuilding needs, Faith In New York primarily focuses on a different segment of Sandy victims. It’s constituents tend to be renters, many in NYCHA and many undocumented. Their needs, and Faith In New York’s resulting focus, differ significantly in many respects from individual homeowners.
Here are Amy Peterson’s remarks and two separate, albeit brief, question & answer segments that she participated in with the forum hosts. Peterson oversees the Build It Back program, which focuses on assisting individual homeowners on rebuilding. At this forum, however, the greatest interest was on a separate aspect of her responsibilities, stimulating job creation in Sandy-affected areas and pushing those jobs toward local residents. Peterson began her remarks by pledging to use Sandy recovery funding “to also rebuild peoples lives through workforce development” and noted her professional background in doing so.
Concerning Build It Back, Peterson expressed confidence in the Mayor’s stated goal of having 500 reimbursement checks issued and 500 construction starts by Labor Day. In a conversation after the forum, we spoke about the range of issues that differently affect the many Sandy-damaged neighborhoods. When I asked Peterson which of those issues seems most intractable, she paused and then replied that while so many are “certainly complicated”, “all … are solvable.”
The forum included some great music. Here’s one song, beautifully performed by the Christ Church International choir.