The Lookout

NYC teachers’ fund pledges $1 billion to post-Sandy rebuilding

Holly Bailey
The Lookout

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Bill Clinton in New York City on Thursday (Keith Bedford/Reuters)

NEW YORK—A pension fund for New York City teachers will contribute $1 billion to rebuild infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

The money will come from the $46 billion New York City Teachers' Retirement System, which handles the investments of roughly 190,000 current and retired educators. It's going to an infrastructure redevelopment project started last year by Clinton Global Initiative, a foundation launched by former President Bill Clinton.

The pledge, announced on Thursday by Clinton in his Harlem office, will be used to complement public rebuilding projects like roads and bridges. It will also help rebuild housing in the region, including more energy-efficient buildings.

"Together the work will benefit our future not only in terms of more efficient buildings and reducing the threat of climate change, but also in the lives of teachers, construction workers and in lowering energy costs for people all over America," Clinton said.

Officials from the NYC Teachers' Retirement System said the money is contingent on the health of the pension plan. But while other teachers' retirement systems took a hit from the nation's economic downturn in recent years, the NYC pension fund is considered one of the healthiest in the country.

The pledge comes just days after President Barack Obama put forward a $60.4 billion request for post-Sandy rebuilding funds for New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. That's far less than the estimated $80 billion in damage estimated by local and state officials.

Clinton's foundation aims to raise $10 billion for local redevelopment projects. The money pledged by the teachers' union isn't required to be spent on Sandy-related projects, but union officials strongly implied the money would be invested almost entirely in rebuilding the region after the storm. Sandy damaged dozens of schools and affected scores of teachers who live in the area, including United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew whose Staten Island home was flooded.

On Wednesday, Mulgrew told reporters the union had been looking to invest its pension funds to meet New York City's "pressing needs. Hurricane Sandy has brought those needs into keener focus."

Liz Goodwin contributed to this report.

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