Boro’s Sept. 11 job victims went without aid: Survey

By Philip Newman

The World Trade Center attack cost the jobs of nearly 9,000 employees of the aviation industry but most were barred from Sept. 11 charitable funds because they worked in Queens rather than Lower Manhattan, a survey has concluded.

A report titled “Beyond Ground Zero” on a study commissioned by United Way of New York City said conditions have steadily worsened for what it calls the indirect victims of the attack.

The report said the three biggest problems are employment, affordable housing and mental health.

The report estimated that a total of 90,000 to 150,000 jobs were lost as result of the attack.

“The loss of 9,000 jobs in the city’s aviation industry during the fall of 2001 is for the most part a direct result of the events of Sept. 11,” the survey said. “But because airline and other airport employees worked in Queens rather than Lower Manhattan, they were not eligible for assistance.”

The aviation industry is among the largest employers in Queens, which is home to John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia, two of the busiest in the country.

The survey pointed out that workers laid off from hotels below Canal Street were considered victims of Sept. 11 but workers laid off by midtown hotels due to the sharp drop in visitors traffic after Sept. 11 were not.

Although the survey did not disclose names in case studies cited in the report, it said, for example, “’Mrs. A’ was a legal immigrant from Ecuador. She had been working for several years at John F. Kennedy International Airport where she stocked aircraft with food.

“She was laid off immediately after the attack on the World Trade Center,” the survey said. “She has two daughters who are 15 and 12 and she was pregnant at the time of our interview. Her husband was not laid off, but the family needed two incomes to survive.”

The study found that Mrs. A had no medical insurance to pay for prenatal care, but the couple was able to meet some of their bills with her husband’s income.”

The United Way said charitable agencies stepped in and paid one month’s rent and one month’s phone bill. “We also arranged for ‘Mrs. A’ to apply for disaster Medicaid so she can get prenatal care,” the organization said.

The survey said that among hardest-hit Queens communities where many residents fell outside the official definition of victims were Flushing and the Rockaways.

“Data showed significant concentrations of displaced workers in the immigrant neighborhoods of northern Queens, including Corona, Elmhurst, Flushing and Jackson Heights.

“Nearly 1,900 of the workers aided by (the charitable agency) Safe Horizon live in these areas,” the survey said.

“For many of the economic victims of Sept. 11, the most critical problem now and in the months ahead will be the inability to pay their rent and the subsequent threat of eviction,” the survey said.

The United Way recommended an end to discrimination against legal immigrants and raising the minimum wage.

United Way of New York City is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to helping New York’s most vulnerable citizens become and remain self-sufficient. The agency co-founded The September 11th Fund with the New York Community Trust. The fund makes grants to nonprofit organizations and agencies with the expertise and ability to meet a wide range of needs quickly.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.

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