When Hurricane Ida hit New York City on September 16, it dumped more than three inches of rain an hour. Sewers overflowed, streets turned into rivers, and thousands of homes and basements across the city’s five boroughs flooded. Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas saw the devastation firsthand when she toured her constituent neighborhoods of Corona, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Woodside in Queens. Family after family, mostly low-income immigrants, told her they’d lost almost all of their possessions in the storm. But as González-Rojas encouraged residents to seek help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, she learned that those who were undocumented were ineligible for aid.
Other elected officials, including state representative Catalina Cruz and city council member Darma Diaz, discovered the same thing. Cruz’s office fielded dozens of phone calls from undocumented immigrants struggling to recover from the flooding, with no place to turn for help. As pressure mounted, Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $27 million fund to help undocumented survivors of Ida in the city — the first initiative of its kind in the c... Read more