We watched those images and realize that we not only share big democracies and a great deal of diversity, but we also share the susceptibility of being targeted for the very freedoms we celebrate. There are two things we must do moving forward. First, law enforcement should punish the perpetrators of these crimes. Second, the terror attacks at the Chabad House, a Jewish community center, remind us that we need to safeguard our non-profits such as churches, synagogues, and mosques here in the United States and provide the tools they need to protect against these crimes before they happen.
One important way of protecting our community centers, schools, and places of worship is through Homeland Security grants made available through the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Nonprofit Security Grant Program. These grants will provide significant funding for security measures at the very institutions being singled out as potential targets – yeshivas, museums, and hospitals throughout the five boroughs.
Key Facts for New York City’s Non-Profits:
• Who Can Apply: Any tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization can apply. Keep in mind that a successful applicant must show that they are at risk of a terrorist attack.
• When Are Applications Due: The application for the resources is due February 20, 2009.
• What DHS Funding Provides: Funds can be used to train security personnel and install security measures such as surveillance cameras, barriers and controlled entry systems. The program funds security enhancements at New York City landmarks such as the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Public Library.
• Where To Apply: Starting this week, applications are available through the New York State Office of Homeland Security website. Organizations interested in accessing the security resources can also find the application on my website – http://weiner.house.gov.
In the past year, 59 organizations within New York have been awarded nearly $4.1 million dollars, with the average award approximately $70,000. The maximum grant allowed is $75,000.
To find out more about the application process, contact my community office at (718) 520-9001.
It is important that we continue to keep our non-profits vulnerable to terrorist attacks safe. In 2004, I offered legislation in the Judiciary Committee to form the Homeland Security Grant program. Congress has funded the national program for the past five years, but funding has decreased 40 percent from $25 million to $15 million. We need to do better and provide these institutions the resources they need and ensure that funding for at-risk non-profits continue.
Worshipers, museum goers, and hospital visitors expect and deserve a safe environment and these grants will go a long way towards ensuring their safety. During this holiday season, we must not forget the lives of those lost and remain vigilant in protecting our community centers, schools, and places of worship.