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The Rebuilding Process, After Hurricane Sandy

Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Themes: 

-The situation that unfolded, and is unfolding, in New York City is akin to that of Hurricane Katrina, where undocumented workers accounted for approximately 50% of the reconstruction workforce population. 

-The problem with immigrants should be met with long-term solution, such as citizenship or work status.

 

Golden Ideas: 

-The Obama Administration has done less to help New York City than the Bush Administration did to help Katrina survivors: "In New Orleans, the federal government made it easier for employers to hire undocumented workers by granting special waivers of immigration laws. The Bush administration also suspended the Davis-Bacon act, which requires employers to pay at minimum the locally prevailing rate for public works projects, in the worst affected areas. This meant that undocumented workers earned significantly less than their documented counterparts in the post-Katrina reconstruction, roughly $10 an hour as compared to $16.50 for workers with papers, the study found."

-The work that has to be done to reconstruct houses will likely be done by immigrant workers: "The irony is that many immigrant day laborers are working on rebuilding and repairing the housing for homeowners without even knowing where they'll be housed,'said Jackie Vimo, advocacy director for the New York Immigration Coalition. 'There's a bitter contradiction.' "

 

Problems: 

-Mentioned above. 

-Those who are contributing to the rebuilding process are not being adequately rewarded for their efforts. If they build a home and have no home to which to return, how can we expect much progress to be made? 

-As yet, there have been no immigration waivers for employing undocumented workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. With or without waivers, the undocumented community is undoubtedly already playing a major role in the rebuilding of the city, while they struggle with rejected FEMA claims and spotty federal assistance.  

 

Questions: 

-What has Katrina taught us about relief assistance? 

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Heavy Hearts and Heavy Minds

Heavy Hearts and Heavy Minds | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
Eighteen months have passed since Superstorm Sandy hit New York, but the effects of the storm still penetrate deeply for the thousands of New Yorkers who are struggling to reconstruct or fix their homes and move on with their lives....
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Themes: 

-"Eighteen months have passed since Superstorm Sandy hit New York on October 29, 2012 and surprised neighborhoods like Canarsie with intense, sudden flooding and long-lasting damage. The shock gradually subsided -- for most people -- as the waters receded and the power was turned back on for the nearly million New Yorkers who were initially left without electricity. But the effects of the storm still penetrate deeply for the thousands of New Yorkers who are struggling to reconstruct or fix their homes and move on with their lives."

-Funds designated to help families in the hardest hit places have not been given out. 

 

Golden Ideas: 

-Undocumented immigrants have lost almost all of their possessions: "A family of immigrants from Central America combed through the still-smoking remains of buildings that burned down following an electrical fire, searching for salvaged possessions. All of their money and personal documents, they said, were stored in their basement apartment." 

-Funds granted to New York city have remained dormant: "In 2013 New York City received a total of $3.22 billion in federal grants for Sandy disaster relief and rebuilding. About $650 million of that money was designated for a program called NYC Build it Back, which former Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced in June 2013. The program is intended to help all residents who owned property at the time of the storm. Build it Back prioritizes low- and middle-income New Yorkers -- meaning individuals who earn less than $48,100, or a four-person household that pulls in $68,700 annually.

But Build it Back has been a phantom presence, so far, in all damaged Sandy areas. It is drawing the ire of residents and of politicians alike, including New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who announced in April that his office is launching an official audit of the city program." 

 

Problems: 

-"Good Shepherd has NYCHA residents who have yet to receive attention and assistance from the public housing authority regarding storm damage. They join the 40 percent of the residents polled who said they had new repairs as a result of Sandy, and the 62 percent who were told they would have to wait six months or more to receive repairs, according to the March 2014 report, "Weathering the Storm." But about 55 percent of those survey respondents already had repair needs before the storm, the survey cites." 

 

-Undocumented workers have been the most severely impacted by the storm: "Undocumented immigrants who were impacted by Sandy have fallen even farther outside of the scope of any relief work. Non-citizen immigrants who were renting in the Rockaways before the storm often did so with hand-shake lease agreements, lacking any sort of formal contract. Some people also lived in situations that were outside of the city's housing code, like in basement rooms that had bathrooms and kitchens attached. These casual renters and immigrants by and large cleared out after Sandy, without exploring any chance of emergency relief or longer-term support. In community Sandy relief circles, a discussion has surfaced regarding how to handle the problem of immigrant Sandy victims -- those without proof of residence or citizenship. So far, a clear answer has not emerged, and the work of community organizations continues to categorically exclude this population, undoubtedly affected in equally devastating proportions." 

 

Questions: 

-Can anything be learned from the relief efforts with Katrina, considering that those most deeply impacted came from a low-income background? 

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Disaster Assistance for Immigrants

Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Themes: 

-The information page above outlines the steps that should be taken for an immigrant to receive financial assistance in the midst of natural disaster. 

-It is possible for an undocumented worker to receive assistance. 

 

Golden Ideas: 

-"Yes, even if you are undocumented, there are a number of resources and services that you can access. In this guide, we identify many services that are available to all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. All New Yorkers are invited to visit New York City Restoration Centers where staff are present to help identify the resources and services available." 

-Undocumented workers are able to seek aid for their children without the need to present any sort of documentation.

-"New York City agencies are required to provide interpretation services, including the use of telephonic interpretation, oral or written translation services, and translation of essential public documents into the most commonly spoken languages, including Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Korean, Italian and Haitian Creole."


Thorns: 

-Aid can take quite a long time to receive, especially if you no longer have a permanent address. 


Questions: 

-Does this type of aid exist all throughout the country, or is it subject to local jurisdiction?

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Obama and the Fight for Environmental Policy

Obama and the Fight for Environmental Policy | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
His climate-change policy has been an abject failure, says Al Gore and just about everyone else. They’re wrong. Here’s why.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

The article outlines President Obama's effort to curb environmental policy for the better. 

 

Golden Ideas: 

-After Obama's election in 2008, carbon emissions had fallen  by 12% below the 2005 level of emission. 

-Obama has faced both opposition and support in hinting at the approval of the Keystone Pipeline. 

-Obama tried to pass an environmental bill with $90 Billion in subsidies. 

 

Thorns: 

-Despite Obama's effort, coal plants still account for 40% of all energy production in the US: "Coal is so inherently dirty that no available technology can prevent a plant from emitting unacceptable levels of greenhouse gases. You can require more-efficient cars or more-efficient refrigerators, and the industry will respond. You can’t really require coal plants to be anything more than slightly cleaner; it’s just physically impossible." 

-Obama has not done enough to tote the economic benefits of renewable energy, and has not outlined clearly enough the ways in which green policy will effect low-income families throughout the US. 

 

Questions: 

-What previous environmental policy has been most effective in low-income communities? 

-What do minority leaders say about the environmental crisis? 

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Structural Inequality, Environmental Justice and Our National Discourse on Race in the Gulf region.

Structural Inequality, Environmental Justice and Our National Discourse on Race in the Gulf region. | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
The disparities in which different communities experienced the effects of Katrina were driven by racism in the region and manifest in everything from historical patterns of settlement to the lack of transportation resources.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

The Gulf of Mexico has been struck by severe environmental disaster in the past decade, such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. The article illuminates how minorities, specifically African Americans, have been impacted more severely by the environmental disaster. 

 

Golden Ideas: 

 

Racism in the Gulf region has lead to historical patterns of settlement that disproportionately affects the poor. The lack of resources has intensified the devastation caused by natural disaster. 

 

Thorns: 


Despite the enormous efforts to rebuild the community after Katrina and the environmental efforts to clean up the Gulf, low-income communities are still subject to the most damaging effects of any storm or other natural disaster: 

Many differences exist between how African Americans and the poor in New Orleans and the Mississippi Coast experienced the hurricane: the nature of the disaster, the size of the population affected, the complexity of the geography, and the duration of the disparities. But these communities share a common history of discrimination in settlement and other living conditions that disproportionately increased their vulnerability to disaster and the barriers they faced in precaution and recovery.
 Questions:  How has current policy influenced the disparity in the geographic impact of natural disaster? How effective have non-profit efforts been in restoring the Gulf community?  

 

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Bayview/Hunter's Point Environmental Injustice

Bayview/Hunter's Point Environmental Injustice | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

The article covers tours given by Karen Pierce in the Hunter's Point/Bayview community. The Hunter's Point area is largely industrial, which means it is home to a host of Superfund sites. Furthermore, "Bayview/Hunter's Point is a neighborhood in San Francisco that has been historically working-class residential and a home to many people of color. Chinese, Portugese, Italian, Maltese, French, and African-American settlers all made Bayview their home in the early days of the neighborhood. Hunters Point is a predominantly African-American area with one of the highest percentages of homeownership in the City". 

 

The Winter Environmental Science Class, a group I was part of, took a a trip to the Hunter's Point/Bayview district. We toured the Naval yard, home to a landfill of radiation and other chemicals that have longed harmed the surrounding community. The park from which we viewed the landfill was clearly in disarray, in that it had not been cleaned up or renovated in years. Environmental injustice in the Hunter's Point community is rampant, and very little has been done to prevent industrial processes from polluting the environment and thus endangering San Francisco citizens. 

 

Considering that San Francisco is a very wealthy county, it is frustrating to see such a community swept under the rug despite non-profit efforts to restore the communities vitality. 

 

Going forward, I would like to know more about the non-profit efforts to restore the community. Also, I would like to know how and if industrial companies have taken responsibility for their destruction. 

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A World Without Backyard Baseball

A World Without Backyard Baseball | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
This area is only 25 miles north of San Francisco, yet it is surrounded by 5 oil refineries, 3 chemical companies and scores of toxic waste sites. Health experts say the environment is taking a toll on residents' health.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Not far away from the forward-thinking, eco-friendly city of San Francisco lies Richmond, a town that is home to one of the United State's largest oil refineries, dozens of toxic waste sites, and eight Superfund sites. 

 

Richmond is predominately made up of ethnic minorities. As the price of living rises in the Bay Area, more people are being forced to move to areas like Richmond. Living in close confines greatly increases the risk of airborne and waterborne disease for the Northern Richmond community: "About 56 percent of the 9 million Americans who live in neighborhoods within three kilometers of large commercial hazardous waste facilities are people of color, according to a landmark, 2007 environmental justice report by the United Church of Christ." This issue is particularly acute as Richmond community endures far more pollution than they create. 


The paradox of Richmond is particularly "thorny" considering that San Francisco, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, lies so close to Richmond. The wealth in San Francisco certainly can make a huge impact in the Richmond community. 


In response, I question the efforts that have been made on the federal and state level to address the issue in Richmond. Furthermore, I wonder how the exacerbation of global warming will effect the Richmond community, especially as it is a low lying place. 

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Help is on the way... Kind of.

Help is on the way... Kind of. | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
Xiomara Abarca still remembers vividly when just one year ago she thought she and her 4-year-old son wouldn’t make it…
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Themes: 

-In the wake of disaster, many immigrants could only rely on the goodwill of their fellow kin. 

-Many stepped up and helped save others as Superstorm Sandy brought tidal wave heights of 14 feet a shore. 

 

Golden Ideas: 

-Xiomara Abarca, along with her 4 year old son, watched as water levels began to take over their house: "Sandy’s record breaking tidal wave height of nearly 14-feet hit the shores of New York and New Jersey on October 29, 2012, causing at least 650,000 homes to be either damaged or destroyed. Approximately two million NYC residents were left without electricity, more than one million NYC children were out of school, and in NJ alone, approximately 8,000 jobs were lost."

-Xiomara made a desperate call to a fellow immigrant as the flood water crept up her stairs. She did not ask for help, but told him to save himself and his family. MInutes later, he showed up to the house in his van, ready to rescue Xiomara and her child. He would go on to rescue over 20 people in his van.

 

Problems:

-Very few, except for the fact that government agencies are not doing enough to help those in need. While a miracle from a neighbor can save your life, they should not be in charge of all aid.

 

Questions:

-What other miracle stories exist in this context?  

 

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Granting Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Unauthorized Haitians After the Earthquake

Granting Temporary Protective Status (TPS) to Unauthorized Haitians After the Earthquake | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti is the latest and deadliest tragedy to befall one of the world’s poorest countries. As the death toll mounts and the full measure of the destruction is taken in, the call for urgent humanitarian relief is already being answered by the United States. Presumably, those relief efforts will be supplemented…
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Themes:

In the wake of the Haitian earthquake of 2010, millions of people were displaced without food or shelter. The US played an important role in the relief effort, and at the time, many politicians and activists were calling for the US to grant Haitians temporary protective status. However, the Obama administration did not pursue the protective status initiative. 

 

Golden Ideas: 

-"...relief efforts will be supplemented by additional long-term foreign aid packages, much like the relief that followed a series of hurricanes and tropical storms in 2008." 

-Due to politician's fear of mass exodus, the US has chosen to not grant TPS to Haitians in the past. 

 

 

Thorns: 

-"The problem, however, is that a TPS designation takes time. Both the State Department and DHS have lengthy review procedures that analyze and calculate a range of requirements, followed by even more analysis within the White House itself. And the longer the Administration waits to consider whether or not to grant TPS, the more likely it is that desperate Haitians will make their way to the country anyway, simply hoping that this time the U.S. will treat them well."

 

Questions: 

-What does this illuminate about the US' procedure with immigrants and environmental refugees? 

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Hurricane Sandy and New York Immigrants

Hurricane Sandy and New York Immigrants | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
One year later the effects are still being felt.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

Themes:

-Immigrants were hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. 

-78% of immigrants have not applied for disaster relief, and due to their immigration status, a large majority are not eligible for relief. 


Golden Ideas:

-Hurricane Sandy did not create problems for New York immigrants, but highlighted problems that already existed within it's communities. -The majority of immigrants live on a low-income basis. As a result, many do not have the ability to buy their home, and must rent instead. After Sandy, these families have been subjected to rent manipulation with little ability to work.


Thorns:

-Most Latino's work in jobs with no paid leave. Missing work brings about dire circumstances.  

-There is very little immigrant relief aid available in the NY community.


Questions:

-What steps have been taken to address the issue with New York immigrants?

-What political motivations lie behind these efforts?  

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Environmental Justice Policy in Massachusetts

Environmental Justice Policy in Massachusetts | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) established an Environmental Justice Policy to help address the disproportionate share of environmental burdens experienced by lower-income people and communities of color who, at the same time, often lack environmental assets in their neighborhoods.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

A great page outlining Massachusetts policy effort in the realm of environmental injustice. 

 

Themes: 

-Environmental policy addressing the effect of environmental disaster upon low-income communities in Massachusetts.

 

Golden Ideas:

-"In 1994, President William Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," directing federal agencies to address environmental injustices in their operations and in communities across the country. Since, and in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, states and municipalities have developed policies and programs to pro-actively address environmental equity concerns to help ensure that minority and low-income communities are not disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards." 

-The Massachusetts government is making a concerted effort to cultivate a clean and healthful environment. 


Thorns: 

-The government is building Brownfield sites to build new buildings, but it is likely that they use polluting chemicals in the construction of those buildings. 

 

Questions: 

-How effective has this policy been? How is it changing the outlay of low-income communities. 


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Pollution is segregated, too

Pollution is segregated, too | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
A new national study finds that minority communities across the U.S. are much more heavily exposed to pollution linked to asthma and heart attack.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

The article furthers the investigation into the ramifications of pollution in low-income and minority communities. 

 

Nitrogen Dioxide emissions are highest in non-white communities. This figure is amplified by the fact that the pollution disparity between white and non-white communities is far greater than the pollution disparity between socio-economic factions. The shocking aspect of this report is that, "that finding is consistent with other data suggesting that even upper-income blacks tend to live in neighborhoods with worse outcomes and higher poverty levels than lower-income whites." This disadvantage is rooted in the historic abuse of lower-income communities, where construction projects, industrial production, and other processes have taken hold without many repercussions: " Many urban highways, for instance, were originally routed through minority communities that were politically easier to uproot than middle-class white neighborhoods. Rumbling highways and landfills also depress nearby property values, meaning that people who can afford to live elsewhere do, while those who can't remain within their influence." 


As a reader, I am shocked by the fact that higher-income minorities have not been able to secure a safer home for their family regardless of their socio-economic position. The article leaves out the reasoning for this phenomenon. I ask why more research has not already taken place and why government bodies have not taken action.  

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A Rising Tide of Migration and Destruction

A Rising Tide of Migration and Destruction | The Fight for Environmental Justice | Scoop.it
New America Media is a nationwide association of over 3000 ethnic media organizations representing the development of a more inclusive journalism. Founded in 1996 by Pacific News Service, New America Media promotes ethnic media by strengthening the editorial and economic viability of this increasingly influential segment of America's communications industry.
Xavi Donobedian's insight:

The number of environmental refugees throughout the world continues to rise as global warming is exacerbated by industrial practices. In particular, the flooding of rice fields, and other crops, in low-lying areas has forced civilians out of coastal lands that they have inhabited for decades. The issue is one of many, amongst shoreline erosion, industrial accidents and pollution. 

 

One issue with measuring the scope of the environmental refugee problem is the fact that the numbers can rise quite rapidly: "Another factor obscuring the true scope of the population is the fact that their numbers can rise quite suddenly — such as after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year, or Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, which in a matter of hours displaced more than 3 million people." 

 

The environmental refugee problem has slowly crept upon the world, but the effects are now being observed in large quantities. Amongst a rising consciousness about the devastation, some positive actions have been taken. For example, President Obama granted citizenship to undocumented Haitians after the earthquake in Haiti. Yet, "Sadly, such actions are rare and when they do come, they manage to address barely a fraction of the pressing legal and humanitarian needs of the growing population. What solutions do exist, experts agree, must recognize that the needs of environmental refugees are one and the same as those of our planet." 

 

It is very difficult to know that although global warming will intimately affect all people across socio-economic lines, the wealthy will have the resources at their disposal to combat the problem, whereas the poor will have their only resources stripped away. 

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