NEW YORK CITY-A report released today by Good Jobs New York points a finger at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. The report, “They’re in the Money, We’re in the Dark,” reviews the organization’s use of 9/11 funds and claims that big business–particularly a push for a $6-billion rail link connecting Downtown to John F. Kennedy Airport–has been prioritized over broader community needs such as affordable housing.

“The 9/11 attacks had a disproportionately harmful economic impact on low- and middle-income residents,” the report states. “Yet the LMDC has primarily focused on the priorities of powerful businesses and major property owners.”

GJNY, a joint project of Good Jobs First and the Fiscal Policy Institute, says a majority of the allocations to date have benefited neighborhoods where the median family income was higher. “It’s not enough,” Bettina Damiani, project director of Good Jobs New York tells “More can be done. I hope this shakes things up and has people asking questions as well as puts in some checks and balances.”

The report also questions the makeup of the LMDC board which it says is “dominated by corporate executives and real estate interests,” noting that a “striking” number of grants and contracts were awarded to organizations to which board members had ties or interlocks. GJNY claims that groups without ties to the board have reported difficulty in accessing information about the status of their funding proposals.

And in general, GJNY sees a difficulty in accessing certain documents, lack of meaningful public input in the decision-making process and a vague standard in the grant process. GJNY is calling for a diversification of the board, more community input, a focus on jobs creation and mixed-income households. The organization also says that while support for the financial sector tradition in Lower Manhattan is important, the LMDC should direct resources to help diversify the economy, “reducing reducing New York City’s reliance on the volatile FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) industries.”

A spokesperson for the LMDC says that its “immediate priority is using the remaining funds for the World Trade Center site and to go toward establishing a 24/7 business environment that will ensure economic growth for all of Lower Manhattan and all income levels.”

The LMDC was created after New York State received $2.7 billion in Community Development Block Grants from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to help the rebuilding efforts in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. A subsequent special Congressional allocation of $783 million brought the total to $3.5 billion.

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