CONEY ISLAND CONDITIONS REMAIN DIRE
I’m a photographer who has been covering Occupy relief efforts in Coney Island since Wednesday. For the past few days I have been helping out at the main distribution center and following volunteer medical teams into the local communities.
Countless residents have been living in appalling conditions – stranded in high rise projects without lights, heat or clean water. Many are elderly or infirm and are stranded because they cannot navigate the pitch-black stairwells of their darkened buildings. They feel completely forgotten. There’s been barely any coverage of Coney Island in the mainstream media, so PLEASE distribute these pictures as widely as possible.
The Darker Side of Dreamland
I was out in the storm and made the short video below:
However, in the last few days its become clear that the redcross has not been doing a very good job giving support in the aftermath of sandy.
New York City Housing Authority Demands Rent Upfront from Hurricane Sandy Victims
Thousands of NYC residents remain without power and even more have been without heat and hot water since October 29th when the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) shut off services to many of its low-lying public housing developments in order to prepare for evacuation. One of the residences hit hardest by the storm was the Red Hook Houses — the largest public housing development in all of Brooklyn — where 2,125 tenants are still without power and 4,015 are without heat and hot water.
Adding insult to injury, NYCHA is still expecting tenants who have gone over two weeks without basic services to continue paying their rent on time and in full, an expectation made all the more unfair by the fact that many residents were temporarily out of work because of the storm.
NYCHA residents will eventually be receiving a rent credit, however the city will not be granting them until early January. While visiting the Red Hook Houses and speaking to a line of tenants waiting for Red Cross blankets, NYCHA Chairman John Rhea dropped this insensitive nugget: “Hang in there. You’re going to get a rent credit. It’s a nice little Christmas present.”
Merry Christmas, indeed.
Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio had this to say on behalf of the NYCHA residents:
“It is unacceptable to charge full rent up front for tenants who in many cases are still living in the dark. NYCHA should cease rent collection in affected developments until basic services are restored, such as electricity, heat and hot water. No tenant in public housing should be forced to pay the city for rent they do not actually owe.”
As of now, Mayor Bloomberg is standing behind NYCHA’s decision to demand rent up front and withhold credits until next year.
NYCHA head tells tenants who are still without power that they’ll get a credit for their troubles – in January [New York Daily News]
Occupy Sandy Volunteer Sounds Alarm on ‘Humanitarian Crisis,’ Near-Complete Absence of Government Aid in Coney Island Projects
Friday is Moed’s fifth day volunteering with Occupy Sandy, an ad hoc hurricane relief group formed by former Occupy Wall Street activists. Moed, an architect from Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, goes door to door in the 30-40 public housing buildings in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn to distribute food, water and supplies, and help address sanitation and medical needs. The projects in Coney Island remain without power, and often without water and necessities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Accounts of these conditions have been corroborated in the New York Daily News.
Moed says all of the supermarkets on Coney Island have been flooded or looted.
The result is what Moed describes as a “humanitarian crisis.” Sick or older people may be vulnerable to death without heat, or food and water.
Moed routinely meets elderly residents who have been trapped alone in their dark, cold apartments since the storm hit. The elevators often do not work, and residents willing to brave the stairwells face darkness, human waste, and even crime.
As a result, Occupy Sandy’s size, sophistication and critical role in disaster relief now rivals that of a major NGO in a developing country. It has filled the void left by the government in providing and orchestrating relief from the storm’s most disadvantaged. On the rare occasions when other aid groups show up, Moed says, “They have been answering to Occupy Sandy, because Occupy Sandy is the only group of people consistently on the ground.”
De Blasio to NYCHA: Don’t require stranded tenants to pay rent up front for weeks spent without power, heat and water
In a letter to the City’s Housing Authority, Public Advocate de Blasio called on the agency to postpone rent collection for tenants stranded without power, heat and water by Hurricane Sandy. Roughly 79,000 tenants in public housing were left without power following the storm. The Housing Authority has pledged to credit affected tenants for days spent without essential services, but will not do so until January. De Blasio warned that forcing tenants to pay their full rent up front—more than they actually owe—would compound the financial hardship many have faced.
While NYCHA has committed to giving these tenants a rent credit in January of 2013, this policy in no way reflects the immediate needs of affected developments. NYCHA should cease rent collection in affected developments until basic services are restored, such as electricity, heat and hot water. No tenant in public housing should be forced to pay the City for rent they do not actually owe.
President of Public Housing Development in Hard-Hit Coney Island Calls Occupy Sandy a “Godsend”
Franklin-Reed said she was satisfied with the government’s response to Hurricane Sandy and applauded other non-governmental aid groups such as Green City Force, but she singled out the People’s Relief volunteers working with Occupy Sandy for effusive praise. (The People’s Relief is a group of field volunteers who work closely with Occupy Sandy members and base operations in Brooklyn, but do not identify as members of “Occupy Sandy.”) “Occupy Sandy came in and they were like a godsend to us,” she said. “Green City Force has been here. NYCHA has been knocking on doors. They started knocking on doors prior to the hurricane. But for the most part we’ve had volunteers from Occupy Sandy. They have been assisting us.”
Franklin-Reed added, “When we see them, we are at ease, because we know that they are supporting us 100%.”
WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU @BarackObama? Citizen here, been in Coney Island Projects FEEDING ppl ALONE no FEMA or Red Cross. People are dying.