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The Key to Storm Recovery? Hating Gentrification.

Lower East Side

Storms and Gentrification

The Rockaway Peninsula after Hurricane Sandy

Oct. 25, 2016

A week after Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted that the city has largely botched the recovery effort from Hurricane Sandy, a new study suggests an unexpected key to recovery from future storms: a neighborhood’s entrenched resistance to gentrification.

Comparing the storm response of two similar low-income communities – the Lower East Side and the Rockaways – a new study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center suggests that a key to post-storm resiliency is a robust network of community activism that fights gentrification.  

“The Lower East Side and the Rockaways had similar levels of exposure in terms of storm flooding,” Leigh Graham, lead author of the study, tells DNAinfo. “But the Lower East Side groups were basically a partner in a lot of the resiliency efforts after the storm, in part because residents who live there have been fighting gentrification for 30 to 40 years and established a level of organization, trust and power, that they were able to get a seat at the table as important stakeholders.”

Community groups on the Rockaways did not have the same level of organization prior to the storm and remain more focused on meeting present economic needs than on pursuing long-term resilience planning, Graham notes. “They were really dealing with economic stagnation and hardship that only worsened after the storm.”

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