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Reducing Our Risk
Organization: Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc.
Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc. (FAC) is a 36 year-old community development corporation in South Brooklyn that advances economic and social justice by building vibrant and diverse communities where residents have genuine opportunities to achieve their goals and the power to shape the community’s future. Through direct assistance to small homeowners, displaced low-income workers and residents of public housing, FAC has been an active force in resiliency planning since Superstorm Sandy hit the coastal neighborhoods of Red Hook and Gowanus, Brooklyn. Immediately following Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, FAC faced the question of what role a community development corporation with a social justice mission can play in providing assistance to the low-income residents of the hard-hit coastal communities of Red Hook and Gowanus. Subsequently, FAC worked with community partners in Red Hook through the Red Hook Coalition, which is a coalition of neighborhood-based community groups responding to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy. Specifically, FAC provided permanent housing to 12 families displaced by the storm; we developed recovery plans with dozens of small, 1-4 family homeowners with support from the Local Initiatives Support Corporations (LISC-NYC) and the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Recovery Fund; counseled dozens of homeowners at risk of foreclosure due to severe damage to their homes, helping them keep their homes; launched a social resiliency initiative for low-income public housing residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy by organizing NYCHA tenants around resiliency planning. Most recently, FAC launched Designing A Resilient & Equitable South Brooklyn (D.A.R.E.S). DARES is a community-based and public housing resident-led resiliency planning initiative focused on low-income New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents in Red Hook and Gowanus, Brooklyn. These two coastal communities in Brooklyn, NY are home to over 10,000 low-income residents. Both communities were severely impacted by Superstorm Sandy and bear significant ongoing physical and social resiliency needs. Through DARES, FAC is leading a team of community partners and technical assistance providers to develop an Implementation Plan to addresses the needs of these NYCHA communities with regard to resiliency planning and disaster preparedness. FAC’s community-based partners in DARES include: Red Hook Initiative, Families United for Racial & Economic Equality, and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation. Community engagement and climate resiliency experts, the Pratt Center for Community Development and HR&A Advisors, will provide Technical Assistance to run the community led planning process and produce a comprehensive Implementation Plan that will increase social capital, cohesion and access to economic opportunities in Red Hook and Gowanus. NYCHA has also committed to participation in the planning process. The resulting Implementation Plan will engage public housing residents in broader resiliency planning efforts and facilitate their input on the direction of multimillion dollar NYCHA capital investments designated to mitigate risks in NYC public housing and ensure that our most vulnerable neighbors’ needs are addressed. This work is partly funded by a planning grant from The Kresge Foundation’s new Climate Resilience & Urban Opportunity Initiative, but the project requires additional funds to cover the full cost of planning and early implementation.