Dear Occupy Sandy Supporter,
My family has lived in the Rockaways for over 15 years. Our community lost so much during Superstorm Sandy. Our homes, school and churches were destroyed. Our friends and families lost their jobs and businesses. Rebuilding is necessary, but traditionally the Rockaway Peninsula has been rebuilt without our say.
I want to change this, which is why I joined Rockaway Wildfire, a group committed to building community power so we can be involved in our own redevelopment and planning in the Rockaways.
In truth, our community needed drastic changes structurally, economically and otherwise long before Superstorm Sandy, but the storm has made an already bad situation, worse.
This is why Rockaway Wildfire is working on a community benefits agreement campaign (CBA) for Arverne East, the biggest area of undeveloped land in NYC. Our goal is to force the developer of the property to agree to demands set forth by the community like living wage jobs, truly affordable Housing and building in a greener, and more ecologically sustainable way.
Before Sandy, the median income in the area of Arverne East was less than half that of the rest of Queens and unemployment was at 11.5 percent. Our buildings were already significantly older than the rest of the city’s, and in need of foundational repairs; this was before the storm hit our shores and caused immense job loss, further compromising the safety of our buildings and forcing many families to leave their community behind!
My family is rooted in this community, our family home is here, our church is here, and we refuse to let politics, hurricanes or developers dictate what our lives will look like in the future. We recognize that this is a long term investment of our time and efforts to change decades worth of our voices being silenced and ignored, but we also know that our individual resilience can unite to create a Rockaway that my daughters will be proud to say they come from.
In Solidarty and Gratitude,
Rockaway Wildfire Organizer