(Left) Faith leaders from 53 congregations around NYC filled the room at the 'Reviving
our City Mayoral Candidates Summit,
(an additional 400 faith leaders packed the basement and viewed the event via
streaming video) by David Rommereim
Presented by Staff at Faith in New York
In the wake of Mayor Bloomberg's $20 billion SIRR rebuilding proposal, clergy and Sandy victims grilled mayoral candidates Christine Quinn, Anthony Weiner, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Bill Thompson about how they would change the growing tide of inequality in New York City. By leveraging billions in Sandy recovery funds, how would they create better jobs for New Yorkers and invest in its neighborhoods.
At the "Reviving Our City Mayoral Candidates Summit, June 2013" Faith in New York - a new citywide faith-based organization - in partnership with the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, the Sandy Regional Assembly and the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance presented a platform of priorities for Sandy rebuilding funds to create better jobs for New Yorkers in the hardest hit communities, including immigrants and youth, and provide real affordable housing. It was the most heavily-attended mayoral forum in the city to-date.
"Sandy recovery efforts have exposed the long-standing disparities that existed in our city before the storm," said Msgr. Fernando Ferrarese, Ombudsman of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. "We cannot afford to have our next mayor squander this historic opportunity to increase equity across New York City through economic development, housing and employment for those who need it most. Families in our communities need the mayor's ear on these issues, not just a small group of wealthy developers. Recovering from Sandy is about more than fixing broken buildings; it's about reversing the growing inequality in our city so that we come out stronger than before."
Prominent NYC clergy, including Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn & Queens, criticized Bloomberg for his narrow focus on resiliency that does not take into account the growing inequalities that have chipped away at the resiliency of communities for decades."We cannot do this the old way, where a small number of very powerful people, limited to the mayor and the Economic Development Corporation, are making all the decisions," said Minister Kenneth Brown of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Rockaway Beach. His church was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. "We need to do this the New York way. All boroughs need to benefit from the rising economic tide in our city."
Organizers critiqued the big promises of affordable housing and good paying jobs, that have accompanied billions of dollars of public money, that has instead subsidized large development projects over the past 12 years such as Atlantic Yards, Yankees Stadium, and Willets Point. Without a new, equitable approach to economic development,one that prioritizes jobs, job training, and affordable housing, the $17 billion in federal Sandy recovery funds will make a few people very rich but will not benefit local communities.
Candidates spoke about providing relief to those still suffering after Sandy, and about how to ensure redevelopment spending focuses on community needs instead of developer priorities.
"The next mayor will decide how billions of dollars are spent, but we'll decide who the next mayor is," said Pastor Marvin Bentley of Antioch Baptist Church in Corona. "If we make the right choices, billions of dollars in recovery money can be used to create good jobs and affordable housing, so all New Yorkers benefit. We're going to hold the next mayor accountable to making New York City more resilient by making it less unequal."
Our community needs the heart and soul of the faith community to clean and renew the well being of all people. Click here for an article written by Pastor Rommereim, in this effort. For more information go to: www.faithinnewyork.org.