Marks Halfway Point of Summer-Long Commitment to Send Over 500 SUNY and CUNY Students and Volunteers to Clean, Restore, and Rebuild Homes with Non-Profit Partners
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the third major deployment of more than 100 student and labor volunteers to Puerto Rico as part of the summer-long NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative. Volunteers will join non-profit organizations to clean, restore, and rebuild homes in an ongoing effort that has already helped dozens of homeowners in communities that continue to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Throughout the summer, New York State will mobilize more than 500 SUNY and CUNY student volunteers, as well as dozens of skilled labor volunteers, to assist with recovery and rebuilding efforts.
"With the federal government continuing to fail Puerto Rico, New York is once again showing up with hundreds of students and volunteers ready to help with the island's ongoing rebuilding efforts," Governor Cuomo said. "We will continue this unwavering commitment and stand alongside the people of Puerto Rico as we work together towards building the island back better and stronger than ever."
"We are proud to step up and help our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico during difficult times," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "New York is committed to helping Puerto Rico rebuild and help people affected by the hurricanes recover. New Yorkers take action when others are in need, and I commend the many student and labor volunteers who are dedicating their time to assist others. Hundreds of volunteers have already provided help to dozens of our fellow citizens in communities across Puerto Rico as they continue to recover and build back better."
New York State's volunteers will work side by side with the non-profit rebuilding organizations All Hands and Hearts, Heart 9/11, and NECHAMA. Student volunteers deploy for two weeks and earn college credits. Volunteers with the New York Building and Construction Trades will deploy in one to two week waves throughout the summer. UNICEF USA has committed funding to support this effort.
The deployment follows the second phase of the initiative launched on April 29, in which the Governor deployed a Tactical Assessment Team to develop a comprehensive rebuilding plan for the island. The Assessment Team's findings continue to guide the deployments throughout the summer. Two prior deployments on July 1 and June 17 each included approximately 100 SUNY and CUNY students and volunteers, and nearly 20 skilled labor volunteers.
SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said, "With each deployment comes the return of SUNY students who overwhelmingly feel a sense of pride from volunteering. They are humbled by the experience, and have a greater perspective on what it means to provide this necessary public service. The Governor's initiative continues to move in a positive direction, not just in rebuilding homes and clearing debris, but by providing hope to the people of Puerto Rico for a full recovery and greater resiliency moving forward."
Interim CUNY Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz said, "The civic-mindedness, empathy and commitment of the 200 CUNY students who are spending their summer helping to rebuild Puerto Rico continues to fill us with pride. We are grateful to them for answering Governor Cuomo's call to aid our fellow citizens with his New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative."
New York's Efforts to Support Puerto Rico
Governor Cuomo continues to build on New York State's efforts to assist Puerto Rican families in New York who were forced to flee their homes after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. The Governor directed the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to establish a $1 million program to provide robust case management services to displaced Puerto Ricans, and directed the Department of Labor to provide up to $10 million in job training and placement.
Last month, the Governor announced that the SUNY Board of Trustees and CUNY Board of Trustees would be extending in-state tuition for students displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The extension of the authorization will allow students from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to attend stated-operated colleges for the 2018-19 academic year at a lower cost to ease the burden as their families recover from the devastation following these natural disasters. In the spring 2018 semester, approximately 50 displaced students took advantage of the in-state tuition rate at SUNY colleges and 200 displaced students at CUNY colleges.
Since Hurricane Maria's landfall in September 2017, Governor Cuomo has traveled to Puerto Rico four times and continuously directed critical resources to communities in need. In the immediate aftermath, New York established the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort, ultimately distributing at least 4,400 pallets of supplies collected from 13 donations sites across the state. New York State also deployed more than 1,000 personnel, including hundreds of utility workers and power experts to help with power restoration and grid stabilization.
Governor Cuomo and the New York Congressional Delegation continue to advocate for Puerto Rico to receive necessary federal aid. In December, Governor Cuomo and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, along with members of the New York Congressional Delegation, released a Build Back Better Assessment Report. The report identified specific sectors needing investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture, and others. Together with $487 million for public safety and first response aid and $9 billion for long-term recovery management, the total funding need is $94.4 billion.
For more information about the recovery and relief efforts underway in Puerto Rico, and to learn how you can assist, please visit the Governor's Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands webpage.