City: Hurricane housing aid helps


The director of the city’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations told the City Council on Tuesday that $750 million will be spent to help those still displaced by Hurricane Sandy.

Funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has permitted the city  to come up with a variety of programs that would help homeowners repair and rebuild their homes, said Brad Gair, director of the city recovery agency. The programs will prioritize from the most severely damaged homes and highest level of need to public housing and homes that were moderately affected.

The programs will be broken down into three major categories. An estimated $350 million will go to the most severely damaged one- and two-family homes, $250 million to multi-family homes, and $120 million to public housing that was critically hit during the storm.

Gair, who has over 20 years of experience of emergency management experience around the globe, served as the federal recovery officer following  9/11. He also spoke about what has already been done to help families were displaced by  Hurricane Sandy. The mission of the HRO is to return as many of the more than 2,000 displaced New York City residents to permanent and stable homes as quickly as possible.

The agency has worked closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, whose officials  did not attend the Council meeting, to help 64,000 households in New York City.

Together they have taken families who were staying in shelters and on gym floors to temporary hotels. The Rapid Repairs program has repaired electric, heat and hot water systems for 9,561 families who have stayed in their own damaged homes for shelter. The city agency worked with the Rent Stabilization Association and set up a housing portal to help displaced families find temporary apartments. More information about housing is available at

A big concern to many is the health dangers of mold that is spreading rapidly throughout homes flooded during the hurricane. The housing recovery office, working with  FEMA, The Robin Hood Foundation, and the Red Cross, has distributed information on safe mold treatment practice training. Thousands of free kits have been distributed to homes. Mold treatments have been done at no cost to homeowners through the Local Initiatives Support Corp.

The Department of Buildings has posted a guide to rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy on its website, and gives homeowners reconstruction guidance based on FEMA’s new advisory flood elevation maps and the city’s regulatory changes.

“Every recovery is a failure to some extent because what many people whose lives have been affected by disaster really want is to have things back to the way they were, and that no one can give them,” Gair said.  “Sandy has brought devastation, tragedy, and sorrow to New York, but has also given us an opportunity to re-envision our shore communities to build back stronger and more resilient.”

Photo: Brad Gair, left. Courtesy

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