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September 26, 2001

Community Organizations and Funders in NYC Disrupted by September 11th Attack
By Calvert Foundation

UHAB, NFCDCU and the F.B. Heron Foundation were all forced to temporarily close, due to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers.

SocialFunds.com -- The effect of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center has rippled through our communities and in particular has left organizations involved with community development in New York City with many uncertainties. But with the resilience displayed by the people of New York over the last two weeks and the support of the nation, these organizations are getting back to work and will continue to provide assistance to low-income communities.

Although very few community-based organizations have offices in lower-Manhattan, there were a couple that were effected directly as the Twin Towers crumbled. Both the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) and Nation Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU) are tenants of the same building on Wall Street, fewer than 10 blocks from “ground-zero”. On the day of the attack their building was evacuated and they were not able to return to their offices until Monday, September 17th.

The staff and immediate family of both UHAB and NFCDCU are all safe. Also, none of UHAB’s low-income housing development programs operate in lower Manhattan. However, it will take several weeks before they can determine whether any tenants were working in the vicinity of the World Trade Center and whether they made it to safety. None of the Community Development Credit Unions in New York have reported any structural damage or personnel loss.

Despite attempts by people who work near the area of the World Trade Center to resume “normal” operations, there are constant reminders and problems related to the attack. According to NFCDCU Executive Director Clifford Rosenthal, “Telephone communications are still hit-and-miss. The air is still acrid with smoke from the burning buildings. And everyone is on edge.”

For developers of affordable housing in New York City, this tragedy comes at a particularly difficult time. Previous to this attack, NYC had already seen a marked rise in homelessness due to the lack of affordable housing. ( See related article )The City of New York’s most recent budget planned to redirect funds from affordable-housing programs to help support restructuring many of the city’s public school buildings. Most programs like UHAB and other charitable organizations rely at least partially on government funding from the city, state, or national level, to fulfill their missions. Now New York City’s government will be forced to re-prioritize its public works efforts and will likely focus most of its efforts on repairing and rebuilding the areas that were damaged by the terrorist attacks. Along with other organizations that rely on government funding, Community Development Financial Institutions hope that the charitable nature of private citizens can help compensate for loss of redirected funds.

Additionally, the offices of the F.B. Heron Foundation were only a few blocks from the World Trade Center. The Heron Foundation is a major supporter of community-based organizations that help low-income families achieve self-sufficiency. Much of the Heron Foundation staff is trying to continue to operate from alternate locations, but its main office remains closed.

To help with the relief effort please go to www.justgive.org

© Calvert Foundation

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