Five That Are Making a Difference

Indypendent Staff Dec 17, 2012

Along with Occupy Sandy, a number of community-based organizations with deep local roots played key roles in the initial relief efforts. As the focus turns to rebuilding, groups like these five will be at the center of struggles for a fair and equitable recovery.


Over the past decade, Red Hook Initiative has developed a number of youth empowerment initiatives from middle school students to young adults. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, RHI became a central relief hub for the community and a lifeline for hundreds of seniors and disabled people stranded in nearby high-rise apartment buildings deprived of heat and water. Going forward, RHI is focusing its recovery efforts on providing comprehensive social services, economic recovery through job training and development and planning recovery and prevention efforts with other allied groups.

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While Wall Street was back to business within a few days, CAAAV was at the center of providing relief to Chinatown residents stranded by the storm and the power outages that followed. Now, it is working to make sure that residents and small businesses in this primarily working class neighborhood receive the disaster relief assistance and insurance payouts they are entitled to and avoid a repeat of the aftermath of 9/11 in which aid poured into more upscale Lower Manhattan neighborhoods while Chinatown was largely ignored.

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Staten Island’s Latino immigrant population has grown steadily in recent years and the Port Richmond-based El Centro has grown with it providing a range of services including English language night courses and defending workers against unscrupulous employers. Since Hurricane Sandy hit, El Centro members have fanned out to hard-hit areas of the island to help gut homes and construct drywall for free.

For more, see


A neighborhood housing and preservation organization, GOLES has helped to lead the fight against gentrification of the Lower East Side for many years. After the storm, it channeled emergency supplies to hard-hit neighborhood residents many of whom were elderly or disabled people living in the NYCHA houses along the East River. GOLES is currently surveying residents and small business about their post-Sandy needs while assisting people whose heat and power still hasn’t been restored. It is also working to prevent landlords from passing on the cost of repairs to boilers and other infrastructure in the form of illegal rent increases.  For more, see


For the past few years Picture the Homeless has released annual reports on the number of vacant buildings and empty lots in the that could be converted to affordable housing. Now, the group is demanding seat at the table during recovery talks after Hurricane Sandy displaced an estimated 40,000 New Yorkers which comes in addition to the 47,000 people who were living in the city’s shelter system before the storm. While Mayor Michael Bloomberg claims there is little affordable housing available for storm victims, PTH’s has latest real estate census shows empty buildings in the city could house 72,000 people and empty lots could be developed to house another 128,000 people. For more, see

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