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Dear friends,

Two crucial public comment periods are closing soon, both with the strong likelihood of impacting the lives of countless NYC Sandy survivors—and in the case of the Keystone XL pipeline, the strong likelihood of impacting the entire planet.

Please read below and make your voice heard!


NYC Sandy Disaster Funds

The next major round of Superstorm Sandy funds (called Disaster Recovery Community Development Block Grants or CDBG-DR) will soon be allocated for the long term recovery of New York City neighborhoods. The plan details how the City plans to spend this next $3.2 billion federal grant, and it must be approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The plan describes how the City will use this funding to help New Yorkers rebuild their homes, businesses, and communities, and it also seeks to address housing, business, infrastructure, and resiliency programs. We are asking all New Yorkers who have been affected by the storm—as residents, as workers, as volunteers, as allies—to send in your comments. It is crucial to us, as grassroots community organizers, to ensure that aid goes to all New Yorkers, not just those who have the loudest political voice.


Please comment at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/cdbg/html/plan/action_form.shtml. Your comment is due by Sunday night (tomorrow!), March 2, 2014 at 11:59PM


We've compiled the following suggestions for you to consider as you write your comments:


1. Reopen registration for Build It Back and focus on outreach to renters and low-income residents.


The City's Build it Back program remains the main vehicle through which Sandy survivors can receive disaster relief aid. But initial outreach was insufficient and many New Yorkers who haven't applied are now shut out of the process. Renters make up the majority of those affected by Superstorm Sandy according to FEMA registrations, but their numbers are underrepresented in the current registrants of Build it Back and their needs are not being met.


2. Increase funding for rental assistance (Temporary Disaster Assistance Program). Ensure TDAP is accessible to undocumented Sandy survivors.


The majority of households affected by the storm were renters, and renters affected by Sandy are more likely to be low-income and people of color than Sandy-impacted homeowners, yet renters are not being served proportionally to their homeowning neighbors. Many renters are experiencing significant rent increases as a result of Sandy, and still others remain displaced.


3. Create local jobs with CDBG funds.


All CDBG-DR funding includes the Section 3 requirement, which is HUD’s local hiring provision. The City can go above what it is required by federal rules to ensure that jobs created are good jobs, going to New Yorkers, particularly Sandy survivors. NYC needs to create requirements that encourage the hiring of Sandy survivors and homeowners!


4. Ensure Long-Term Housing Affordability in Sandy-Affected Neighborhoods and Build New Affordable Housing.


The City was in an affordable housing crisis long before Sandy hit our shores. Rents have gone up in Sandy impacted communities and currently Build it Back has no requirement for maintaining affordability. The City can tackle these issues by making affordability a prerequisite for landlords accepting federal disaster aid.


Read more comments from Rockaway WIldfire and the Staten Island Long Term Recovery Organization.

 

We'd be thrilled if you'd share your comments with us, and we encourage you to also submit them as op-eds or letters to your local news outlet. It's important for us to keep the people's needs at the forefront of every discussion on storm recovery.


Keystone XL Pipeline

In a world where everyone from oil executives to the President promise a "greener" future, the Keystone XL Pipeline sticks out like a black thumb. Canadian company TransCanada hopes to build this pipeline to transport extremely dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast for refining. The problem is that pollution created during these processes is much greater than that of conventional oil production. This pipeline will cut through the heartland of the U.S., jeopardizing ecosystems, water sources and public health and safety all along its route. In First Nations communities near the extraction sites in Canada, the cultural and public health consequences have already been felt for years. You can submit your comment to the State Department by March 7th via 350.org here. Take further action by joining students and youth around the nation from March 1 to 3: Join XL Dissent to say no to Keystone XL!


Thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do.


The Occupy Sandy Team