As 2012 comes to a close, our community is still hurting in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The Cooper Square Committee’s office did not suffer any damage from the storm but we were without power for a week, and saw our work load quickly become backlogged upon returning. Those needing assistance included people impacted by the storm, as well as the many low income tenants who seek our help in the normal course of events. During the past couple of weeks, we have been working with our project partner, the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association (MHA), and with other agencies including FEMA, to assist people displaced by the storm. We’ve been contacted by more than 20 people who have been displaced from their homes by the storm, and we are interviewing many of them with the aim of placing at least 8 of them in temporary housing owned by the MHA as soon as possible.
The storm has forced us to recognize the need to develop a plan in the event of another major storm in the future. This means buying a generator so that we can keep our doors open to the public during a sustained power outage. It also means having a plan in place so that we can coordinate outreach to the elderly and vulnerable populations in our community. Our network of volunteers did a great job in the days after the storm, checking up on at risk neighbors, and for that, we thank you! Still, we need a more comprehensive and coordinated approach in the event we are faced with this situation again.
We ask our community and supporters to donate $5, $10, $25 or more to support our work so that we can be better prepared to respond to a crisis like Hurricane Sandy and continue to be a vital community resource for years to come. We accomplished a lot in 2012, and look forward to more community victories in the coming year.
Highlights from 2012:
Tenant counseling and Organizing: We counseled hundreds of tenants facing landlord-tenant problems, and helped scores of tenants to improve their living conditions by helping them get repairs, restored services, and rent abatements. We prevented a number of evictions, and helped tenant associations in a couple of buildings to bring HP actions to successfully resolve systemic problems with their landlords.
Social Services: Our staff assisted scores of tenants with obtaining and preserving needed housing entitlements such as Section 8, SCRIE and DRIE, and they linked people in need with Food Stamps and Medicaid.
Greening Project: Our Greening Coordinator qualified 15 buildings for energy upgrades through the EmPower NYC Program, and helped 7 buildings get more comprehensive weatherization assistance, including 5 buildings (16-18 2nd Ave., 23 E. 3rd St., 56-58 E. 4thSt., 13 Stanton St.) that received new boilers. We’ve now extended our outreach to low/moderate income cooperatives east of Tomkins Square Park.
Housing for Homeless LGBT Youth: We formed a partnership with the Ali Forney Center, and did a lot of pre-development work on 222 East 13th Street, which is slated to become housing for up to 18 homeless LGBT youth. In July, we learned that our funding was approved, and the project will receive $3.3 million in renovation funds. Our project architects have prepared schematic plans, and we are moving ahead with the environmental reviews and the pre-development approval process. We expect to begin construction in 2013.
Senior Program: We launched a Senior Organizing Committee this past Summer with a brainstorming session attended by over 40 seniors. They’ve formed several subcommittees to promote health , wellness and social programming for local seniors, given that 23% of households in our community have at least one senior resident, age 60 and over. We will be working to fund a senior program coordinator in 2013.
Again, we appreciate your involvement and your support. Please consider making a recurring financial contribution to the Cooper Square Committee, and contact us if you have any interest in volunteering.