Archive for the tag 'rapid repairs'


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The New York City Housing Recovery recently released the above infographic, showing the number of registrations for Build it Back. These are the final numbers now that registration for the program is closed.

Along with the Build it Back, the agency also released the number of homes fixed up by Rapid Repairs, have had mold removed by city-run programs, or were demolished by the city. All of these are broken down by impact zones – the six waterfront areas most impacted by the storm, and accounting for a total of 61,793 buildings (many of which are multi-family residences, so the number of households is likely higher).

The numbers tell a story in themselves. While they don’t quite deliver insight into the extent of damage into each neighborhood – a fairly ephemeral impact that’s hard to quantify and even harder to wrap one’s head around – they do show us how active these programs are in particular neighborhoods, and we can draw some conclusions from that.

So let’s get started.

Read on as we break down the numbers, and tease out the story of Brooklyn’s Sandy recovery.

Uncle Sam Is Picking Up NYC’s Sandy Tab. (Source: James Montgomery Flagg via Wikimedia Commons)

When Superstorm Sandy wrecked New York City late last October, we knew it would cost billions of dollars to clean up the mess left by Mother Nature. Thankfully, we can count on Uncle Sam, another mythical avatar, to pay for the mess left in Sandy’s wake. According to a report by Crain’s, the federal government, via FEMA and community development block grant funds, is paying 100 percent of the city’s enormous Sandy repair bill.

New York City alone suffered a staggering $6.3 billion in damages and emergency expenditures in the wake of Sandy’s wrath. FEMA is paying for 90 percent of the total bill, with the remaining 10 percent coming from the aforementioned community development block grant funds.

The money breaks down as follows.

  • $341 million to cover staffing costs,
  • $188 million in overtime pay for city workers
  • $1.4 billion in immediate repair and relief bills
  • $3.1 billion for road reconstruction, parks, beaches and pier repair
  • $1.8 billion to fund public housing and business recovery
  • $500 million to fund the city’s Rapid Repairs program
  • $100 million for Bellevue and Coney Island Hospitals
  • $61 million for debris removal
  • $57 million for school repairs
  • $34 million for demolitions of uninhabitable homes
  • $824 million for road reconstruction
  • $436 million for beachfront repairs in the Rockaways, Brighton Beach and Coney Island
  • $528 million for future expenditures on beach, boardwalk, park and playground construction

It’ll be nice to see how far all this money goes to cleaning up and repairing the city, that is until another storm comes and washes away all the work this cash is earmarked for.

Photo by Erica Sherman

The city’s post-Sandy Rapid Repairs project got off to a shaky start, leaving many residents vexed by the stop-and-start progress of the program, but as we reported last month, Rapid Repairs began to kick into high gear. They have since reached a huge milestone by repairing approximately 10,000 Sandy damaged homes, according to a report from the Times Union.

The Rapid Repairs program, which is a collaborative effort between the city and FEMA, employed thousands of contractors and construction workers to repair people’s homes for free. Their focus was on restoring basic services like electricity, heat and hot water.

While the progress made by Rapid Repairs has been impressive, the Mayor promised that thousands more homes will continue to get service in the coming weeks.

Photo by Erica Sherman

There’s a new class of despicable low-life in the neighborhood: the Rapid Repair con artist. According to an e-mail blast from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, his office has been fielding complaints from residents about fraudsters who – somehow – got a hold of the Rapid Repairs client directory and are shaking down vulnerable Sandy victims.

Hopefully, once they’re off the streets, we’ll find out how in the world the city let a database of Sandy victims in dire straits fall into the hands of criminals.

Here’s the e-mail from Cymbrowitz:

I’ve received a few reports from residents who tell me that scam artists pretending to be from the city’s Rapid Repairs program have been showing up at peoples’ homes offering to do work, such as remove a boiler, or have asked residents for payment for services. Apparently the scammers have gotten hold of the Rapid Repairs directory, which contains names and addresses of residents who require repairs.

Let me be clear on this: Rapid Repairs will NEVER ask you for payment. If they do ask for payment, they are not from the Rapid Repairs program. Do not let this person into your home!

In order to protect yourself and your loved ones from these scam artists, here are some tips you should know:

  • All Rapid Repairs workers are required to carry an ID and badge, identifying them as a Rapid Repairs worker. Always ask to see the badge and ID of the person who says they are from Rapid Repairs.
  • When Rapid Repairs comes to your house for the first time, you will be given a card with the phone number of your Rapid Repairs site supervisor. If you are not sure if the person at your door is from Rapid Repairs, contact your site supervisor immediately.
  • If you feel endangered by the person at your front door, call 911 immediately.

Home repair frauds increase following major storms, and there are corrupt people who will try to prey on those who have already lost so much. As we work through this recovery process together, I want to make sure everyone stays safe, and that means knowing how to protect yourself from con artists.

As always, I’m here to assist you. Please feel free to call my office at (718) 743-4078, or visit my temporary district office at 2658 Coney Island Avenue (between Avenues W and X), which is open Monday – Thursday from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and on Fridays until 5 p.m.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Following demands from local pols in just about all of the communities hard hit by Superstorm Sandy, New York City has decided to extend the application period for its innovative Rapid Repairs program until Monday, January 14.

The program, originally slated to cease accepting applications on December 31, will now be open for an additional two weeks, allowing more time to apply for those overwhelmed with immediate recovery needs to get to the forms.

There is a caveat, though: the program will no longer accept online or telephone applications. Residents seeking to apply must do so in-person at a Disaster Recovery Center like the one that opened today at 3076 Emmons Avenue.

The reason for the in-person registration is that the city requires all applicants to sign a “Right of Entry” form before they visit the home. These forms are now the first step in the process, and the in-person requirement will hopefully speed up repair work.

Rapid Repairs connects residents with registered contractors, and funnels FEMA funds directly to the work – allowing repairs to be done more quickly, and without any out-of-pocket payment by the resident. The repairs are limited to restoring essential services like heat, hot water and power, and also providing the bare minimum to live safely in the dwelling.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Sure, Rapid Repairs may have gotten off to a sluggish, ineffective start. But we’re hearing things have really picked up, and thousands of homes have already been fixed up thanks to the innovative disaster program.

But the time to apply is nigh! On Monday, December 31, the city will no longer accept applications for Rapid Repairs. If you have any work that still needs to be done, make sure you apply today. It won’t hurt you to get in line even if you turn the service down.

You can find out more about Rapid Repairs here, and apply here.

Also, if you’ve still got junk and debris in and around your house from Superstorm Sandy, the Department of Sanitation – which has done a spectacular job over the last few months – will cease bulk garbage pickup on Monday as well. So make sure you get that junk to the curb, otherwise you will have to hire a private collector to haul it away.

Photo by Erica Sherman

New York City’s Rapid Repairs program, launched to help rebuild homes thrashed by Superstorm Sandy, has been abandoning local Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach residents, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

As we’ve previously reported, NYC’s Rapid Repairs program – launched by Bloomberg’s office two weeks after Sandy steamrolled the city – has been a confusing and ineffective initiative, baffling residents with its complex registration process.

Those patient enough to sort through the red tape were visited by contractors who performed estimates and began preliminary repairs. The problem for many Sheepshead residents is that those repairmen have yet to come back to finish what they’ve started.

“All I have is a house with no walls,” said Sheepshead Bay bungalow owner Cindy Fuchs, 40, choking back tears outside her moldy, dark Mesereau Court home that’s still without power and a working boiler.

Fuchs hasn’t heard from NYC Rapid Repairs since a group of men knocked down her fungus-covered walls last month.

“I don’t know what to do. I am just waiting,” said Fuchs, a middle school teacher’s aide, who asked Occupy Sandy volunteers to finish the job.

Fuchs isn’t alone in her frustration as many residents have been left in the cold by the Rapid Repairs crew.

“They said they needed to get a part – and then they never showed,” said Sheepshead Bay grandmother Diane Bisset, 72, draped in a green bathrobe inside her cold Batchelder Street home.

Rapid Repairs installed a new $2,100 heater that hasn’t stayed warm since it went in two weeks ago, Bisset said. “I know there are a lot of people and so little time, but this is ridiculous.”

Her grandaughter Erica Zito, 24, teamed up with other volunteers cleaning out houses visited by Rapid Repair workers who haven’t completed the jobs.

“You have to wait too long. We can’t wait that long,” Zito said.

The Rapid Repairs crews, divided into groups of electricians,  plumbers and demo men, all have different schedules and have failed to communicate with each other regarding what’s needed for certain houses. The lack of communication extends to the residents as well, with many complaining that, once visited, they never hear back.

Peter Spencer, spokesman for the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, told the Daily News that a greater effort is needed.

“We are ramping up our efforts constantly to get to all of these homes as soon as possible.” According to Spencer, of the 4,200 Brooklyn homes that have registered for help, 1,000 are finished or are on track for repair.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Still need work done on your home, but having trouble finding the funds? Can’t figure out how to navigate the system’s not-so-rapid Rapid Repairs Program? Attend this town hall!

Representatives of New York City’s Rapid Repairs unit will attend a town hall meeting to answer questions and, hopefully, expedite services to our neighborhood, on Monday, December 10 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at P.S. 52 (2675 East 29th Street).

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and Councilman Lew Fidler organized the event, following a meeting with Plumb Beach and Sheepshead Bay residents at Roll-N-Roaster, where it was clear that clarification of the program’s offerings for home repair was needed.

You can make an appointment for Rapid Repair service, but, first, you must have registered for disaster assistance with FEMA by going to, and have a FEMA ID number.

Then, sign up for the NYC Rapid Repair services by registering online, calling 311 or visiting a Disaster Assistance Service Center and registering there.

A contractor will come to your home and assess the damage, then a work order will be created and contractors will fix the home.

NYC Restoration Centers

Looking for that centralized place to take care of various Hurricane Sandy-related claims, get some advice, sign up for food assistance, streamline repairs to your home and to recover lost personal records? New York City is opening for “restoration centers” throughout the city today, with counselors to help guide you through the various agencies and processes to get back on your feet after the storm.

NYC Restore helps New Yorkers in the areas most affected by Hurricane Sandy get access to important information and services to help them recover. Four NYC Restoration Centers provide the following types of assistance:

  • NYC Rapid Repairs
  • Food and Nutrition Assistance
  • Temporary Housing Information
  • Health and Medical Benefits
  • Business Restoration
  • Counseling Services
  • Financial Assistance
  • Personal Records and Information

NYC Rapid Repairs is a new program to send teams of contractors and city inspectors to neighborhoods affected by Hurricane Sandy to quickly repair damaged homes. It’s meant to streamline the process of finding a contractor, getting the work done, and paying him with FEMA reimbursement funds. More information can be found here.

NYC Restoration Centers are open every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

NYC Restoration Centers are located at these addresses:

Coney Island
Our Lady of Solace
2866 W. 19th St.
Brooklyn, 11224

SSA Building
10 Bouck Ct.
Brooklyn, 11223

Far Rockaway*
10-01 Beach 20th St.
(At Cornaga Ave.)
Queens, 11691

Staten Island
1976 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, 10306

Photo by Erica Sherman

If Hurricane Sandy damaged your home, you may receive assistance rebuilding or repairing your home with the launch of the NYC Rapid Repair Program.

City officials established the program, beginning tomorrow, which will assist those hardest hit by Sandy to repair their homes and restore power in a streamlined manner.

Contractors, plumbers, and electricians will canvass homes that need repairs and perform them. Homeowners can also make arrangements for repairs and later apply to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement.

Starting Tuesday, November 13, 2012, you can make an appointment for Rapid Repair service. First, you must have registered for disaster assistance with FEMA by going to, and have a FEMA ID number.

Then, sign up for the NYC Rapid Repair services by registering online, calling 311 or visiting a Disaster Assistance Service Center and registering there.

A contractor will come to your home and assess the damage, then a work order will be created and contractors will fix the home.

“A house, or an apartment complex or a commercial building where the electrical facilities were underwater, it is a safety problem. And I’m very proud that the City of New York has streamlined the process,” said Nick Lizanich of LIPA to NY1.