SUNSET PARK, Brooklyn — New York City is not doing enough to protect poor vulnerable communities from the effects of climate change. That’s the message from a group of environmental watchdogs.
With its proximity to the Bay and budding industrial complex at industry city, the Environmental Justice Alliance says Sunset Park community groups would be the perfect partner for the Mayor’s sustainability plan known as OneNYC.
But the EJA says the Mayor’s office is not doing enough to work with some of New York’s neighborhoods most at risk from the effects of climate change.
“Whenever any environmental amenities actually do get put in our communities, they are being put in there because we are being displaced, and they are being put in there to support the kind of growth that is really that gentrification growth, but not to address the needs of the most vulnerable in New York City,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre of UPROSE.
Yeampierre and several other environmental advocates delivered a backhanded compliment to the Mayor’s office Monday.
The Environmental Justice Alliance praised the Mayor for taking on climate change in New York City, but time and time again said his OneNYC plan falls short for those who need it most.
“We looked at it particularly from the context of communities of color, low-income communities, communities again that are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” said Eddie Baitista of the EJA.
According to the organizations New report, neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Hunts Point, and the North Shore of Staten Island are still at risk of flooding following hurricane Sandy, while other areas of Manhattan see major improvements.
But the Mayor’s office disagreed, citing a $45-million investment in the South Bronx, federal support surrounding the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and the Resilient Neighborhood study in Staten Island.
In a statement a spokesperson for the city told us:
“Our priorities and funding specifically target neighborhoods with large vulnerable populations on the front lines of climate change. This includes communities like the Lower East Side, Red Hook, the South Bronx / Hunts Point, the Rockaways, Coney Island, and many more.”
The EJA also suggests that the city needs to focus more attention on lead in the water and ground in these vulnerable areas given the current issues around the country.
“We believe the city hasn’t been committing the same level of resources in other boroughs whereas in Manhattan these commitments are really fleshed out,” said Juan Camilo Oslrio of the EJA. “And in some cases almost starting implementation. Other vulnerable communities have not been receiving the same level of attention.”
But the city says lead poisoning and other health issues have been a top priority across the five boroughs for decades citing an 80 percent drop in child lead poisoning since 2002.
While the city says it welcomes feedback from the EJA it also stands by the improvement on environmental justice issues and will update progress on the OneNYC goals later this spring.