The southeast Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie was especially hard hit by Hurricane Sandy, with fully 100% of residential buildings located in a Hurricane Evacuation Zone. In response, the Canarsie Coalition was formed in collaboration with the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office in order to assist in coordinating a response best suited to the neighborhood. The Coalition also had a greater goal to build back a more resilient community.

The Coalition was created in the spirit of collaboration and is made up of 60 non-profits organizations that were already working in the neighborhood. Many of the Center for NYC Neighborhoods’ Network Partners are members, giving them a chance to collaborate on a pressing need. It also has partnerships with four elected officials, namely: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Councilman Alan Maisel, Assemblyman N. Nick  Perry, and State Senator John Sampson.

The Center is a member of the Coalition, and assisted in putting on the Canarsie Homeowner Assistance Day on February 8th. The purpose of the event was to help homeowners that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy, struggling with mortgage issues, or, for some, a combination of both. The Coalition did a great job drumming up support for the event and recruiting volunteers, ensuring that homeowners knew about the event.

Canarsie Day 2013Utilizing Canarsie Talent: Canarsie Coalition Leaders Reveal the Winner of the Logo Competition at Canarsie Day 2013

Over the course of our work with the Coalition, we have been very impressed with the model of the Coalition and its ability to work effectively with community members, existing organizations, and government officials. The Coalition emerged as a leader from within the community, with an understanding of the neighborhood and an ability to make sure important information reached the people who needed it. By working with organizations already serving the community, the Coalition was able to advocate for and meet the distinct needs of local residents.

David Louis, Project Director of the Canarsie Coalition, commented, “Working with our elected officials and partner organizations such as the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, the Canarsie Coalition has served hundreds of Canarsie residents, providing services ranging from foreclosure counseling and free legal services to disaster case management to all contributing members of the community.”

The Canarsie Coalition is at risk of winding down because, unfortunately, its funding expired at the end of June, but it has already achieved a lot in the time it has existed to address the needs in Canarsie after Sandy. We’re hopeful that the Canarsie Coalition can continue. At the Center, we’re always eager to work side-by-side with community-based organizations that understand the past, present, and future of their neighborhoods best.

Have you worked with the Canarsie Coalition or another neighborhood organization like it? Let us know about it in the comments!