In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Pratt Center is working to develop community-driven long-term resiliency strategies.
Hurricane Sandy exposed not only the urgent need for resiliency planning across New York City, but the disparate impact of climate change on low- and moderate-income communities and small businesses along the city’s waterfront.
From the NYCHA tenants who lived without electricity and gas for months to the Brooklyn Navy Yard manufacturers whose equipment and inventory were destroyed, Hurricane Sandy overwhelmingly affected New Yorkers without the economic, technical and political resources to quickly respond and recover. In several low-income communities of color, over 90% of housing units – tens of thousands of homes – were damaged or destroyed. Communities in the Rockaways, Red Hook and Coney Island already struggled with an inadequate and poorly maintained physical infrastructure, economic isolation, high foreclosure rates and housing in disrepair – injustices exacerbated by the storm.
To address this, Pratt Center launched a multi-level resiliency planning initiative in New York City’s low- and moderate-income communities most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. As part of this initiative, we supported the development of community-driven recovery and rebuilding strategies in partnership with local organizations. This work included assisting community-based stakeholders in understanding public documents, proposed regulations, and other resiliency policy, and in pursuing rebuilding funding opportunities; providing technical assistance and support for community resiliency planning efforts; data collection and analysis; and developing community-specific modeling for long-term climate resiliency. For instance, in Sheepshead Bay we provided planning and architectural assistance to a local group of residents whose homes were clustered in shallow street courts below the flood plain to rebuild in an efficient, resilient and innovative way that addresses the neighborhood’s idiosyncratic and low-lying building stock. For more information on our work in Sheepshead Bay, click here.
To strengthen community-based planning and identify local zoning, building code, construction, remediation, and resiliency priorities, we also advocated for and compiled comprehensive information on the storm’s impacts. For more information, click here.
Pratt Center also worked with the public sector and citywide networks to align recovery investments with immediate-term community needs and to link resiliency policy to long-term community visions. We were a member of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding (AJR), a citywide coalition of labor unions and community, faith-based, environmental and policy organizations. As a member of AJR, we worked with our colleagues across the city to create equitable and sustainable solutions to low- and moderate-income communities’ most pressing challenges, such as the inadequate recovery assistance to tenants, the need for transparency in rebuilding and resiliency planning, and the jobs crisis in climate-vulnerable communities. Check out AJR’s website to learn more about this critical work.
Pratt Center additionally served on the Planning Committee of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance’s Sandy Regional Assembly. The Regional Assembly is an association of environmental justice organizations and allies from Sandy-impacted and storm surge-vulnerable areas in New York City, New Jersey and Long Island. As part of the Assembly, we worked to advance community-led green infrastructure projects in flood zones and resiliency models for waterfront industries that will protect worker and community health and support good jobs. Check out the Sandy Regional Assembly’s website to learn more.
Lastly, Pratt Center developed community resiliency hubs - a participatory planning infrastructure that leverages rebuilding resources to empower residents to strengthen their communities in the face of climate change. Through this work, we aimed to create a formal mechanism for community participation and accountability in the rebuilding process, and to streamline City and federal resources and assistance to make it easier for vulnerable populations to recover. We worked to achieve this through strategic coordination with our community allies, the City and other advocates. For more information on this work, click here.