Vulnerable populations are doubly disadvantaged in the wake of a catastrophic disaster – and immigrant communities face unimaginable challenges. Thankfully, human services organizations across the Hurricane Sandy-affected northeast were in place to provide support and resources to vulnerable immigrant populations. Make the Road New York (MRNY) is among them. In the aftermath of the storm, the organization launched its Sandy Recovery Initiative, designed to integrate the organization’s pre-existing services to handle legal services, workforce development and job training/placement, and the distribution of basic food and supplies, with a door-to-door canvass operation.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund decided early on to dedicate a portion of its grants to supporting vulnerable immigrant populations and MRNY was a great fit. MRNY was awarded with a grant to facilitate canvassing and grassroots research within Sandy-impacted areas of Staten Island to update its needs assessments and directly enroll families in mold remediation and other programs to help them rebuild their homes and their lives. The organization canvassed 550 individuals – making referrals to case management, legal and workforce development services.

“As CDP knows recovery isn’t completed in the first months after a disaster,” said Melissa McCrumb, senior organizer at Make the Road New York. “MRNY has worked for almost two years to ensure that New York City includes undocumented immigrants in the recovery process by providing rental assistance to families who were displaced, or at risk of being displaced as a result of rapidly increasing rents. After nearly two years this precedent setting aid is reaching families and helping them to remain in the communities they call home. Support from CDP has helped us remain in this fight for the long haul.”

The canvassing and research resulted in an incredible wealth of information. The full report is found HERE. Highlights of the report include the following:

  • The median rent paid by Sandy-affected households increased $200 a month since the storm;
  • New York City renters who were affected by Hurricane Sandy have a median income of $18,000;
  • Renters affected by Sandy are more likely to be low-income and of color than their homeowner counterparts;
  • Many Sandy-affected renters report they are unable to afford healthy food and other basic necessities as a result of increased rent.
  • Lack of translation and interpretation services from non-native speakers of English, have prevented many renters from accessing available resources.