Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg Announce Creation of New York Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center

ALBANY, NY (01/29/2010)(readMedia)-- Governor David A. Paterson and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, to announce the creation of the New York Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center. The Center will provide support services for the Haitian community affected by the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince on January 12. The Center's first day of operation will be Monday, February 1, 2010, and it will be located in the New York National Guard Armory at 1579 Bedford Avenue, between Union and President Streets in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is home to New York State's largest Haitian community.

In addition to the creation of the Center, Governor Paterson announced that New York City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene will Chair a newly created Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center Communication and Outreach Committee to ensure the Haitian community is fully aware of the Center's services.

"While we continue to support the massive international relief effort under way in Haiti, both the State and City are committed to doing everything we can to help our fellow New Yorkers affected by this tragedy," Governor Paterson said. "New York is home to the largest population of Haitians outside of Haiti, and this joint effort is dedicated to ensuring that together we provide real support during this difficult and constantly evolving situation. I would like to thank Mayor Bloomberg for joining with me to make sure New York's Haitian community is cared for during this time of great need."

"Over the past few weeks I've spoken with a lot of New Yorkers with family in Haiti, it's simply heartbreaking," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "For many of them, the tragedy is compounded by the anguish of still not knowing the fate of loved ones – and not knowing where to turn for answers. Here in New York we've done everything possible to connect our Haitian community to the support and resources it needs. This new Resource Center is the latest step in those efforts."

"On behalf of the Administration, we at the Department of Homeland Security are proud to have extended humanitarian relief to Haitians residing in the United States," said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "We urge those who seek to benefit from the program to use the worthy resources available to them, and to also be careful that they do not fall prey to those who seek to take advantage of them in this time of great need."

The Center will provide a number of services to the Haitian community, including:

• Creole-speaking interpretation services;

• Assistance with completing Temporary Protected Status applications and other immigration-related assistance;

• Access to telephones to contact appropriate federal and Haitian officials;

• Use of computers for consulting a broad range of websites, including New York State's Registry of New York Citizens in Haiti;

• Child guardianship and custody services;

• Legal information; and

• Grief counseling.

In addition to these services, the Center will provide daily, official situation reports on the status of the relief effort.

The Center will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Information available at the Center will soon be made available through a combination of telephone and web-based systems. The Center will not take donations of cash or goods, but staff will direct those interested in donating to established Haitian relief organizations.

Upon arrival at the armory, visitors will meet with Resource Center staff who will assess their needs and provide language interpretation services if necessary. Visitors will then be guided to the appropriate services by the interpreter or volunteers from New York City's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. Before leaving the Resource Center, visitors will be asked to provide feedback about the services they received to gauge the effectiveness of the services being offered and identify any additional needs.

The Family Resource Center will be staffed by a wide range of State and City agencies with access to vital, reliable information, as well as with partners from the Federal government. Local community groups will be invited to offer services on site, and community information sessions will be held for the public at the Center. State, City, and local agencies that will be providing support services at the resource center, include:

• U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

• New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance

• New York State Office of Children and Family Services

• New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs

• New York State Emergency Management Office

• New York State Office of Mental Health

• New York City Office of Emergency Management

• New York City Human Resources Administration

• New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs

• New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

• American Red Cross

• New York Cares

• New York Disaster Interfaith Services

The Governor's Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center Communication and Outreach Committee will work to ensure strong communication of the Center's information and mission to the community; will raise awareness throughout the State about the Center and its services; will foster dialogue between community leaders and the Center; and will relay constituent interests and concerns to the Center as it grows to meet evolving needs from the community. Members of the Committee, which will include elected officials and representatives from both the State and City, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Since January 12, Governor Paterson has pledged all available State resources to aid in the international relief effort. At the Governor's direction, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs offered helicopters and C-130 cargo planes to the Department of Defense and continue to fly support missions for the Department of Defense; the Air National Guard sent personnel to Washington, D.C. to support the Air Operations Center's Crisis Action Team. On January 14, New York City sent 80 police officers and fire fighters from NY-TF 1, the City's urban search and rescue team to Haiti. During the week-long deployment the joint FDNY – NYPD team rescued six people from collapsed structures in Port-au-Prince. The State Office of Emergency Management has also been coordinating efforts with FEMA.

On January 15, Governor Paterson established the New York State Registry for New York Citizens in Haiti to help in identifying and locating New Yorkers in Haiti at the time of the quake. The online registry can be accessed by going to the Governor's website, and clicking on the New York State Registry of New York Citizens in Haiti. You will be asked to provide the name of the individuals you have not had contact with and to provide some essential contact information. The information collected will not be used or shared for any purpose unrelated to locating and identifying family and friends in Haiti. For those who do not have access to the web, the Governor has established a toll-free hotline - 1-888-769-7243. The hotline is operational from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.


The following statements were provided in support of the Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center:

Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said: "The extreme loss of life in Haiti is heartbreaking and tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with the New York families who have lost loved ones. Many have experienced far too much anguish already and we must do everything we can to support them during this difficult time. I thank Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for creating this vital resource center which will provide New York families and children with grief counseling, important legal information and resources to reach out to their relatives in Haiti."

Congresswoman Yvette Clake said: "I applaud Governor Paterson and the Mayor Bloomberg for announcing the opening of the Haitian Family Resource Center at the Brooklyn Armory. New York is home to the second largest population of Haitian immigrants in the United States, most of whom are represented in my district. I am confident that this resource center will greatly serve my constituents, who have been directly affected by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked this Caribbean nation. I will continue to work with my colleagues to help our residents move forward as recovery continues in Haiti."

Congressman Eliot Engel said, "This is a time of desperate need for the Haitian people. As Chair of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, I have visited Haiti and know first hand the agony that island nation suffers, from the spate of hurricanes last year to the earthquake of January 12th. I am working with the Haitian community in Rockland to help them and their relatives in Haiti. Opening a family resource center is a humanitarian step that so much to help the Haitian community. I congratulate Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for the work they are doing to help when we all must do all we can for Haiti."

Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy said: "First and foremost, my sincerest condolences and prayers are with the citizens of Haiti and their friends and families on Long Island and throughout the State. I am pleased that the Governor and the Mayor have created the New York Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center at the New York National Guard Armory in Brooklyn to provide support services for the Haitian community. New York has a large Haitian population and this center will go a long way in helping people deal with all of their concerns. As we move forward, I will work with the President and my colleagues in Congress to assist with disaster relief and recovery."

Congressman Gregory Meeks said: "The country of Haiti has endured one of the most horrific environmental catastrophes in history. I believe that the establishment of the Haiti Family Resource Center comes at a critical time where Haitian Americans in New York need our help and support to provide immediate short term recovery and strategize for implementing long term recovery. I look forward to working with Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg to ensure that Haitian Americans in New York receive the necessary tools for recovery in the most expedited manner possible."

Congressman Edolphus Towns said: "Our continued support for the families of Haiti's earthquake victims is critical as that nation begins the difficult process of rebuilding. The people of Brooklyn have shed many tears for our brothers and sisters in Haiti, but with we remain steadfast in our support and hope that Haiti will recover from this tragedy. I applaud Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for their actions and commitment to providing comprehensive, supportive services to New York's Haitian community."

Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said: "The tragedy in Haiti has touched us all, particularly in New York, home to over a half a million Haitian Americans. But the people of New York have once again shown compassion has no bounds and our generosity for those in need may well be limitless. We will continue to do all that is within in our power to support the people of Haiti during their time of need. I applaud Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for their extraordinary humanitarian efforts on behalf of the people of Haiti and New York's Haitian community."

Senate President Pro Tempore, Malcolm A. Smith said: "The people of Haiti have endured an unimaginable tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with them. There is nothing more important than helping those in their time of need, and that is exactly what New York has done and will always do. Our collective conscience demands we continue to support the people of Haiti and our brothers and sisters of the Haitian community here in New York. This is a time to band together, do what is right, lead with our heart, and extend the realm of our generosity to all those in need. I congratulate Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for their leadership and compassion, making a true difference in the lives of others."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: "As the members of the Assembly expressed on the floor of the Assembly chamber, the devastation that residents of Haiti have endured is unimaginable. The new resource center will provide some small relief to our friends and neighbors who have been affected by this tragedy. I commend Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for their swift response in allotting much-needed resources to Haitians living in New York."

Senator Eric Adams said: "January 12 will always be a day of mourning for Haitians and for Haitian-Americans. The catastrophic earthquake in Haiti caused shock and grief that extends far beyond Haiti's borders, and we in New York City have the largest Haitian-American population and the oldest Haitian-American communities in the U.S. We extend our deepest condolences to those who lost loved ones and friends in the horrific earthquake. As we utilize every resource available to help our brothers and sisters in Haiti to recover and rebuild, we must also support our fellow New Yorkers who have been affected by the calamity. As we show solidarity with the Haitian people, so must we demonstrate it with Haitian- Americans. As we assist our brothers and sisters in Haiti, so must we aid our Haitian-American neighbors. We must affirm that we are all one people, one human family. It is in time of tragedy that the nobility and generosity of the human spirit can truly shine through. We gather today to demonstrate that we will support and assist the thousands of our fellow citizens affected by this devastation. I commend Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for establishing the New York Haitian Earthquake Family Resource Center at the Bedford Avenue Armory in Brooklyn."

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries said: "Brooklyn is home to one of the largest Haitian communities in the United States so it is only fitting that central Brooklyn embrace and shelter the families of those that have lost so much. The resource center will further insure that we do our part to thoroughly address the humanitarian crisis. I would like to thank Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg for their efforts in support of the people of Haiti."

Assemblyman N. Nick Perry said: "In this time of great crisis in the Haitian community, vital services are so very important. I am hopeful that this center will be resourceful in meeting the various needs of the Haitian-Americans who have been affected by this tragedy. I commend Governor Paterson for responding with the leadership we need during this painful and critical period for New York's Haitian community."

Commissioner of the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Joseph F. Bruno said: "Earlier this week we honored our search and rescue team for saving lives in Port-au-Prince, but we have not forgotten the thousands people here in New York who were impacted by the disaster in Haiti. We also understand that Haiti will need our long-term support, and OEM will continue to look for ways that New York City can assist as the country begins to recover and rebuild."

Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Denise O'Donnell said: "New Yorkers have always been a generous people, reaching out to their neighbors in times of need. And this disaster in Haiti is no exception. The Governor is very grateful for the generosity New Yorkers have shown. While we thank the hundreds who have contacted us with offers of food, water and medical supplies, there is no way to transport those items right now. The best way all New Yorkers can help is to make monetary donations to relief groups listed on the Governor's website."


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