By David Brand
New York City will fund a seven-year-old office tasked with combating climate change after its current federal grant runs out next year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said March 3.
The Mayor’s Office of Resiliency is funded entirely by a federal block grant issued to New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The same Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program also funds resiliency-focused positions in other city agencies, but is set to expire in mid-2022.
De Blasio told reporters that he would seek new federal funding for the MOR, or commit city money to the office if D.C. won’t put up the cash.
“Of course, we’re going to try and see if we can get federal funding on an ongoing basis, but if we can’t, we have to find a way to sustain these efforts,” de Blaso said. “And we’ll talk about that as part of the executive budget coming up next month.”
Councilmembers Costa Constantinides and Justin Brannan had urged the mayor in January to create a permanent funding stream for the MOR and other resiliency positions following a council hearing.
On March 5, Constantinides acknowledged de Blasio’s remarks but told the Eagle he wants to see a concrete funding proposal for MOR included in the executive budget.
“I’m glad that the mayor is going to prioritize it but it has to more than just talking about it,” he said. “Federal funding seems like an unstable funding source in the long term. It could be a short term band-aid, but we need to figure out how to fund this in the long term.”
Constantinides and Brannan have introduced a measure to create a permanent Department of Sustainability and Climate Change that would institutionalize the use of climate science to guide city policy, programs and capital projects.
The new agency would “ensure that there is a dedicated staff of civil servants who can be guaranteed to remain in their roles across administrations,” they wrote to de Blasio in January.