By Alex Robinson
Mayor Bill de Blasio went to the Rockaways Wednesday afternoon to launch initiatives to help neighborhoods that are still struggling from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
“Sandy exposed longstanding inequalities across our city—and few places felt that as deeply as the Rockaways,” de Blasio told reporters during a job fair at Challenge Prep Academy in Far Rockaway. “That’s why our administration is committed not just to expediting our recovery, but to using it to take on inequality and provide opportunity to New Yorkers in our hardest-hit neighborhoods.”
De Blasio announced a Build It Back local hiring program, which will give priority to residents affected by Sandy for rebuilding jobs. This will require contractors receiving Sandy funds from Build It Back to give preference to Rockaways residents in projects within commuting distances of their homes.
The mayor also launched a $1.1 million program called the Rockaways Economic Advancement Initiative to help Rockaways residents find full-time work.
“This creates a pipeline for jobs, but it is not the traditional approach to job training which in many ways was kind of superficial,” the mayor said. “It works with residents in need of a job to figure out anything and everything to get a job and keep a job for the long term.”
The job fair, which was attended by almost 50 businesses and agencies, marked the beginning of the Workforce 1 initiative, which will be run in partnership between the mayor’s Housing Recovery Office and the Department of Small Business Services.
The program will offer expanded services, including career counseling and entrepreneurship education for Far Rockaway jobseekers, as well as assistance for businesses looking to hire.
“Through tonight’s opportunity fair and our new Build it Back local hiring initiative, we’re giving Sandy-impacted New Yorkers priority for recovery and rebuilding jobs,” the mayor said.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.