MOCEJ and CNYCN Launch Innovative Pilot to Address Flooding
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 6, 2023
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Center for NYC Neighborhoods (CNYCN), with Advisory Support from NYC Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice (MOCEJ), Launches New Pilot Program to Help Moderate Income Neighborhoods with Cash Assistance Amid Extreme Flooding
The “learning pilot” will provide up to $1.1M in emergency funding to low- and moderate-income households in need after a major flooding event; Pilot harnesses innovative “parametric” model to provide money to CNYCN to assist communities in times of natural disasters
NEW YORK, March 6, 2023 – The Center for NYC Neighborhoods (CNYCN) – in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice (MOCEJ), the Environmental Defense Fund, and SBP, a social impact organization – has launched a new pilot project. It will provide low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities in high-flood-risk neighborhoods with emergency cash funds after a major flood. The “learning pilot” further establishes MOCEJ and the nonprofit CNYCN as national leaders in flood reform and innovation, committed to ensuring equitable access to financial resources that ease post-flood recovery and build financial resilience. MOCEJ and a board of subject-matter experts provided advisory support, and Guy Carpenter, a leading global risk and reinsurance specialist and a business of Marsh McLennan, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, and ICEYE, a provider of natural catastrophe data, provided technical assistance. This pilot was funded through a Civic Innovation Challenge award, a joint effort of the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security.
A parametric product provides quick payouts if the covered event meets a pre-agreed severity. In the pilot, payouts will be made to CNYCN for qualifying flood events – using a mix of satellite data, on-the-ground real-time sensors, and social media images, compiled by ICEYE. Once a qualified weather event triggers the payment to the center, its application portal will open. Households can apply on their own or through the help of CNYCN’s network partners. Those who qualify can receive a grant up to $15,000 from CNYCN within days of a major flood.
“I am proud of the strong partnership and bold innovation that led to this creative pilot, which will help frontline communities,” said Kizzy Charles-Guzmán, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice. “As our city faces increasing flood risk from heavy rainfall and coastal storm surge, we need nimble tools aimed toward protecting the financial health and livelihood of New Yorkers.”
Flooding is worsening in NYC and many households are unaware of and unprepared for the risk. Without access to funding immediately after a disaster, residents and business owners within affected communities often delay important spending, fall behind on bills, and postpone necessary work such as mold remediation. Due to the high cost of homeownership in New York City, many 1-4 family homeowners are considered “housing rich, cash-poor,” meaning they have more equity locked into the value of the home than they have available in liquid assets.
While parametric products have been around for decades, their use in community-based solutions is novel. If a flood occurs, using reported flood extent from ICEYE, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and ICEYE will determine the percentage of each neighborhood that falls within the flooded area. If the percentage is above a threshold agreed to in the derivative contract, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions will issue a payment to CNYCN, which will then distribute the grants to households.
“This innovative inclusive program will stimulate real change in providing immediate access to funds that will allow traditionally marginalized communities to start building towards recovery,” said Christie Peale, CEO and Executive Director, Center for NYC Neighborhoods.
“This pilot is designed to make financial resources immediately available and prevent households from spiraling into worse financial hardship,” said Carolyn Kousky, Associate Vice-President for Economics and Policy, Environmental Defense Fund.
“Flooding disasters have an immediate effect on the community, but their impact is felt by communities long after they have passed,” said David Corman, Program Director, National Science Foundation. “This is an innovative community-approach to responding to flood disasters with financial resilience.”
“With the increasing frequency and severity of adverse weather impacting communities, it is crucial that we take steps to protect the most vulnerable,” said Jake Clark, Head of Public Sector North America, Guy Carpenter. “Guy Carpenter is honored to be a part of this important solution and we encourage other communities to use these approaches as a component of disaster risk management efforts.”
“This innovative product allows New York City to optimize its resources and focus on helping low- and moderate-income communities recover more quickly after a severe flooding event,” said Jackie Higgins, Head of Public Sector Solutions North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.
“Current recovery options are not well suited to meet the needs of our most vulnerable populations,” said Helen Wiley, Disaster Preparedness Program Director, SBP. “This pilot offers important lessons for other communities seeking to fill financial gaps in recovery.”
“This historic program will bring critical financial support to low-income households and help the City respond decisively to flood events,” said Andy Read, Global Head of Government Solutions at ICEYE. “This partnership represents a cornerstone step in the right direction as we seek to address a growing flood protection gap.”
The Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice (MOCEJ) is a team of architects, lawyers, data and climate scientists, engineers, policy advisors, geologists, and city planners leading the City’s strategy to create a city where our 8.8 million New Yorkers can live, work, learn, and play in healthy, resilient, and sustainable neighborhoods — now and into the future. MOCEJ works to make our buildings efficient and resilient, ensure our infrastructure is climate-ready, transform our streets and public realm into living, open spaces, and make our energy clean and resilient.
The Center for NYC Neighborhoods promotes and protects affordable homeownership in New York City so working- and middle-class families can build strong, thriving communities. It carries out its mission to promote and protect affordable homeownership through the lenses of racial equity and climate change. Visit cnycn.org to learn more.
One of the world’s leading international nonprofit organizations, Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org) creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. To do so, EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. With more than 3 million members and offices in the United States, China, Mexico, Indonesia and the European Union, EDF’s scientists, economists, attorneys and policy experts are working in 28 countries to turn our solutions into action. For more information on inclusive insurance, visit edf.org/inclusive-insurance.
SBP, a social impact organization focused on disaster resilience and recovery, solves the challenges facing at-risk communities by bringing the rigor of business and innovation to drive social impact, create resilient communities, and streamline recovery. To shrink the time between disaster and recovery, SBP takes a holistic approach — reducing risk, increasing resilience, and improving the recovery process — to effect transformational change in the disaster recovery system and restore opportunity and security for people and communities. Since its founding in 2006 in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, SBP has rebuilt homes for more than 5,200 families with the help of 150,000 volunteers in 15+ communities across the U.S. and in the Bahamas.
Amy Sohn, Press Secretary, Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice
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