9/11 Reconstruction Watchdogs Issue Warning About Hurricane Katrina Rebuilding Plans

Three watchdog groups, including two in New York that monitored the post-9/11 reconstruction of Lower Manhattan, today cautioned Gulf Coast leaders and members of Congress that they “should closely monitor the design of Hurricane Katrina aid packages so that low- and moderate-income people, unemployed workers, and small businesses are treated fairly.”

In New York, the groups warn, much of the $20 billion allocated for economic development has benefited real estate developers and wealthy neighborhoods.

The letter is at: http://www.reconstructionwatch.net . Their previous studies reveal that federal rebuilding subsidies have fueled gentrification and slighted the reemployment needs of low- income workers.

The groups are Good Jobs First (GJF, which promotes accountability in economic development nationwide), the Labor Community Advocacy Network (LCAN, a network of more than 60 New York groups coordinated by the Fiscal Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research and education organization), and Good Jobs New York (GJNY, which has monitored post-9/11 monies through its Reconstruction Watch project).

“The survivors of Hurricane Katrina deserve better than a knee-jerk raft of tax breaks for big businesses that will ultimately shift the tax burden to small businesses and working families,” said Greg LeRoy of GJF and author of the new book The Great American Jobs Scam.

“After 9/11, rules that normally restrict federal economic funding to primarily benefit low- and moderate-income communities were stripped out, so that money could legally go to large businesses and wealthy neighborhoods,” said Bettina Damiani of GJNY. “As a result, these funds have yet to create any affordable housing or good new jobs for low-income residents of Lower Manhattan.”

“After four years of grassroots pressure, we’re pleased that some money finally has been earmarked for affordable housing and neighborhood-level development,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick of LCAN. “But that’s a tiny portion of the total. From the start, this process has felt like a game of keep-away from low- and middle-income communities.”

To avoid a replay of such outcomes, the groups urge legislators and residents to immediately organize a rebuilding plan that encourages broad public participation, strict rules targeting benefits to the most vulnerable survivors, and accountability safeguards.

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