The Long Beach City Council is asking federal housing officials to investigate the city’s public housing after a report claimed that repairs after superstorm Sandy were ignored for minorities in those homes.
The report, “North Park: Left Out and Denied,” was generated by the Syosset-based group ERASE Racism to focus on Long Beach’s 106-unit Channel Park Homes in the city’s North Park neighborhood.
The study found that more than 90 percent of residents reported their floor tiles were not replaced after flooding during Sandy and nearly 80 percent of the 66 homes surveyed did not have damaged appliances replaced.
Eighty-three percent of the residents surveyed were black, 12 percent Hispanic and 5 percent of residents were multiracial. The homes are managed by the Long Beach Housing Authority, which operates with federal funding and is not part of the city government.
City Council members and City Manager Jack Schnirman last Wednesday sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the governor’s Office of Storm Recovery asking officials to review the report and send federal workers to address environmental and safety concerns.
“We urge both agencies to expedite this process as quickly as possible so that the Long Beach Housing Authority can rebuild properly and with resiliency,” the letter states. “We again stress that health and safety concerns must be paramount and be addressed expeditiously.”
A recent review of the housing authority was deemed “high performing,” according to HUD. The authority is made up of five members and its director appointed by the city manager and two board members elected by residents.
The ERASE Racism report states that the Office of Storm Recovery has not undertaken mold remediation in most homes at Channel Park.
“Many families were forced to use kitchen cabinets and appliances that once stood in contaminated floodwaters. Residents feared that mold may be growing behind the walls, under the floors, and behind the kitchen cabinets, and were worried about the well-being and health of their families,” the report states.
Long Beach Councilwoman Anissa Moore, the city’s first black council member, said the report depicted environmental racism.
“I’m extremely disturbed by what the study reveals and how the residents of Channel Park homes were treated after Sandy,” Moore said. “In situations like this, you have a concentrated group of people and services not given to others,” Moore said.