More SUNY Student Volunteers Head To Puerto Rico

Governor  Andrew M. Cuomo today announced  the second major deployment of volunteers to Puerto Rico as part of the  summer-long NY Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding  Initiative. Over the course of the summer, New York 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. Volunteers will join non-profit organizations to  clean, restore, and rebuild homes, prioritizing the repair and  replacement of roofs where possible. Approximately 100 SUNY  and CUNY volunteers and nearly a dozen skilled labor volunteers are  deploying to the island this weekend.


"While Washington continues to ignore  the needs of Puerto Rico, New York will stand with our brothers and sisters who are still suffering to this day," Governor  Cuomo said. "With this second deployment of volunteers and hundreds more to come, we are furthering our commitment to rebuilding  the island and ensuring the people of Puerto Rico know that they have not been forgotten."


"The people of Puerto Rico continue to suffer at the hands of a callous and incompetent federal government,"said Lieutenant Governor KathyHochul.  "While Washington continues to ignore the needs of the island, our  state government is leading once again to help our families, friends,  and fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. We care about the lives that have  been devastated, and the families who have lost everything.  Our unprecedented focus with assisting the rebuilding efforts in Puerto  Rico continues with this latest deployment of volunteers. Our  unwavering commitment will continue for as long as it takes to rebuild  and recover."


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 will 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 are guiding the deployment of approximately  500 SUNY and CUNY students, as well as skilled workers from the building and construction trades, throughout the summer. On  June 17th, approximately 100 SUNY and CUNY volunteers and  nearly 20 skilled labor volunteers traveled to the island in the first  major deployment of volunteers. 


SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said,  "SUNY is proud to be part of the Governor's initiative, and to continue  working with the people of Puerto Rico to help them rebuild and  recover. This also provides our students with a valuable opportunity to  learn and to serve."


Interim CUNY Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz said,  "We could not be prouder of the many students who volunteered to make a  difference in the lives of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Through  their restoration efforts, these students are setting a high standard  for all caring, global citizens. We thank the  faculty and staff who are giving their time to ensure a full and  meaningful experience for our students, and we are grateful to Governor  Cuomo for launching the New York Stands with Puerto Rico Recovery and  Rebuilding Initiative."


New York's Efforts to Support Puerto  Rico 


Yesterday,  Governor Cuomo announced new actions to assist Puerto Rican families in  New York who were forced to flee their homes  after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. With federal rental  assistance set to expiring on June 30, the Governor directed the Office  of Temporary and Disability Assistance to establish a new $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. Additionally,  the Governor has called on the federal government to extend the  Transitional Sheltering Assistance Program and to immediately  activate the Disaster Housing Assistance Program to ensure access to  affordable housing. 


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 Maria  and Irma. The extension of the authorization will allow students from  Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to attend stated-operated  colleges for the 2018-2019 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 fifty  displaces 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 has 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.


In  response to the recently released  Harvard School of Public Health's analysis estimating that the death  toll of Hurricane Maria could be 70 times higher than the current  official estimate, Governor Cuomo joined Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez's  demand for a commission to immediately investigate  the federal response, death toll and any negligence or failure to  appropriately respond, as well as disaster preparedness, response and  recovery.


Governor Cuomo and the New York Congressional Delegation continue to advocate for Puerto Rico to get the federal aid they need  and deserve. In December, Governor Cuomo and Governor  Rosselló,  along with members of the New York Congressional Delegation, released a  Build Back Better Assessment Report  that called for a $94.4 billion federal aid package to help Puerto Rico  build back stronger. The plan identified specific sectors needing  investments, including housing, power grid and resiliency, agriculture  and others. Together with $487 million for public  safety and first response 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.


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