From Karen Haycox, CEO of Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County

Our New York City headquarters is located in the shadows once cast by the Twin Towers and down the block from what is now the 9/11 Memorial.  It is quite literally in our backyard.

And so today, on this solemn anniversary of a day that our nation and our world were forever changed, my heart is of course heavy with the memory of the more than 6,000 injured and nearly 3,000 killed during the September 11th terrorist attacks. So many of the victims were the same kinds of hard-working people that our organization serves – first responders, transit workers, food service personnel, and other essential workers. Every life lost left behind a well of grief for their families, for every New Yorker, for every American and for families around the world — all bound together by the events of that terrible day.

As we pause and remember on this 20th anniversary of 9/11, it feels important that we also take a moment to consider how much we have rebuilt. While we will forever honor the memory of the souls that were lost, we have created something new from the catastrophe.  Over the past two decades, New York City has welcomed millions of new New Yorkers, all woven now into the fabric that makes this city so vibrant and so special. Together we have built lives and communities, and accomplished much. I am struck today, as I often am, at the power of renewal that we collectively share.

Today, COVID, climate change and inequity threaten all that we have built. Every day it seems there is a new challenge we must face.  But in the eyes of each New Yorker – old and new – is an engrained resilience; a dedication and commitment that I cannot help but feel is tied to the knowledge that we must honor the lives lost and families impacted on 9/11. We must do that by working together; not only to build upon the progress of the past 20 years but to build a better, a more equitable and more affordable place where everyone can find their home.