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NYDIS Releases the Community Needs Assessment of the NYC Faith Sector 
A project of the NYC Faith Sector Community Preparedness Program 
funded by NYC DOHMH Office of Emergency Preparedness & Response

New York, NY: New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS) announces the release of the Executive Summary of our Community Needs Assessment of the New York City Faith Sector. This groundbreaking assessment is the culmination of an 18-month collaboration with many partners, focusing on the disaster and public health emergency readiness of the New York City Faith Sector.

NYC's religious communities reportedly represent 5.5 million adherents to a specific religion, While some 59% of New Yorker's identify as Christian, 20% of New York's faithful are non-Christian compared to 6% nationally. As such, basic religious literacy and competency are required of government agencies and nonprofits attempting to partner effectively. Further, understanding the strengths and gaps in the preparedness and response capa bilities of this prominent sector is a key factor in enhancing the resiliency of the whole of New York City.

This report is the result of intensive surveying and facilitated focus groups of the sector leaders from thousands of houses of worship, faith-based nonprofits, and religious (judicatory) bodies or networks (stakeholders) across the five boroughs.

Key findings and recommendations for how the City can improve emergency preparedness, recovery and resiliency within the NYC Faith Sector:

  • 24% of NYC Faith Sector stakeholders currently have a Emergency Plan
  • 3% of NYC Faith Sector stakeholders have practiced their Emergency Communication Plan.
  • Congregations that were predominantly non-English speaking were less likely to be prepared.
  • NYC should develop funding streams to build and sustain the Faith Sector's capacity, resilience, risk communication tools, and maintain a robust networking, training, and planning posture.
  • Sector leaders have a strong desire for training and resources to increase skills, its volunteer pool, and improve connections to citywide agencies and congregations and established disaster networks.
  • Encourage or require (in funding contracts) senior religious leaders to form external partnership roles so that institutional knowledge, relationships, and operational awareness are sustained  (between large scale disasters), as well as incorporated into institutional and government transition planning.
  • Regularly assess and identify priority training topics, preparedness initiatives, and capabilities that addresses Faith Sector needs and those of constituent leaders, congregants, or clients.

The Faith Sector is comprised of the most trusted leaders in New York City -  and, ubiquitous institutions with both lay and credentialed/ordained leaders who interact daily or weekly with a majority of individual New Yorkers; and as such, faith communities are the keystone of the City's whole-community resilience. This  assessment's  findings  demo nstrate a clear interest and commitment to building resilience, and to improving how faith communities communicate about risk, how they prepare for disaster and emergency response and how they can help both adherents and all New Yorkers in times of crisis.

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"The Community Needs Assessment of the NYC Faith Sector concretely demonstrates the great capacity which congregations and other faith-based institutions have to increase the resiliency of New York City as a whole. Particularly important is the need for leaders from communities of color to partner amongst one another and government - and, intentionally seek opportunities to build their crisis leadership skills and plans. New York City is as vulnerable as its least resourced communities."

- Rev. Fredrick A. Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Advisory Board Co-Chair, NYC Faith Sector Community Preparedness Program

"This assessment confirms that we have long known, that New York City is one of the most diverse and threat vulnerable cities in the United States. The Faith Sector is visible on every street corner, serves our most vulnerable on a daily basis, and it's the foundation of compassion and hope in adversity. While religious diversity is one of our greatest strengths our Faith Sector's resilience is vital to the City's ability to prepare, respond and recover as a whole community. Our faith communities and our government are interdependent and securing the resilience of the Faith Sector is a strategic necessity."

-  Peter B. Gudaitis, M.Div., Executive Director & CEO, New York Disaster Interfaith Services
Advisory Board Co-Chair, NYC Faith Sector Community Preparedness Program

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NYDIS is a 501(c)(3) faith-based federation of service providers and charitable organizations who work in partnership to provide disaster readiness, response, and recovery services to New York City. Our mission is to inspire, connect and provide resources for New York City faith communities serving in disaster to create an urban environment of social justice for all.