Archive for the tag 'superstorm sandy'

Photo by Max T.

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) will be Wednesday, June 25 at 8:00 p.m. inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

Members and attendees will discuss real estate taxes that have changed in Manhattan Beach as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Representatives from the NYC Department of Finance will be on hand to answer your questions regarding the methods used to determine why new assessed values did or did not appear on your recent statement.

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. For more, contact MBCG at (718) 200-1845 or manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com, or visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

The Kings Bay YM-YWHA will be hosting a public forum on Superstorm Sandy recovery tomorrow, June 17 at the Y, 3495 Nostrand Avenue. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the forum starts promptly at 6:00 p.m.

City Councilman Mark Treyger will speak about his efforts on the Recovery & Resiliency Committee, and attendees will also hear from other areas of planning and recovery such as Sheepshead Bay / Gerritsen Beach NY Rising plans.

There will also be time to speak directly to Build it Back case managers and specialists to learn updates on the progress of your own application.

To learn more, contact Empower Sheepshead RC Program Coordinator Vadim Shiglik at (718) 648-7703 extension 260 or vshiglik@empowersheepshead.org.

Post-disaster housing prototype project

(Source: nyc.gov)

Last Saturday, a prototype for emergency living quarters was unveiled. The experimental post-disaster housing module stacks five steel units on top of each other like Lego pieces to create accommodations that are more comfortable than your rotting, soggy home after Superstorm Sandy.

The project has been in the works for six years now. The NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and the Army Corps of Engineers all came together to help create the prototype.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported:

The prototype includes a living area, bedrooms, bathroom, fully-equipped kitchen and storage areas, but the configuration is flexible, said project architect Jim Garrison, a professor at Pratt and principal of Garrison Architects.

The next step, Garrison said, is to connect the prototype to city utilities and then test it out with human guinea pigs.

“The idea is, try it out, solve all the problems, and then you’re ready to build quickly when the time comes,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle.

The project was run by Housing Recovery Program Manager at OEM Cynthia Barton. The housing project has been in the works since 2008, when Barton brainstormed the “What If New York City…” design competition.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

The  12’ by 40’ units are a far cry from poorly insulated FEMA trailers, and can fit more people onto the available land. They are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, Garrison said. The balconies keep the sun from shining directly into the interior, and the insulation keeps the heat and AC from escaping.

And as the Daily Mail reported, the Lego-style homes will be the the nation’s first “urban post disaster prototype.” Three of these houses have been erected in Downtown Brooklyn and they will stay up for a year, during which time volunteer students from NYU-Poly will live in them to see how they fare.

It actually looks pretty cozy. I wonder if maybe we can solve New York City’s affordable housing crisis with these. They’ve even got balconies!

Here are some photos of the units and the construction process, released by OEM via Facebook:

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Staten Island after Superstorm Sandy. (Source: Desiree Arroyo/Flickr)

Build it Back isn’t the only government-sponsored aid program that has failed to distribute money to those hit by Superstorm Sandy. More than 330 small businesses that were affected by Sandy are still waiting for federal money meant to help them recover, according to DNAinfo.

The federally-funded NYC Hurricane Sandy Loan & Grant program has about $42 million intended to be distributed in loans of up to $150,000, and grants of up to $60,000, to any business in the city that needed help to get their business up and running again. The program started last June.

DNAinfo reports:

So far, however, only eight business owners have received any money, according to the city’s Department of Small Business Services, the agency that is administering the program.

The eight businesses that have received money have gotten a total of $2.5 million, the SBS said.

The money for the loan and grant is meant to go toward working capital — cash used for payroll, marketing, utilities and rent — as well as purchasing moveable equipment.

But many owners said because of the delay in processing their applications, they’ve already had to invest a large amount of cash to buy all their new equipment, and get their business off the ground — all of which has left them with debt that these federal funds can’t help with.

When it was announced that Build it Back, the city-run program for property owners, hadn’t actually given any money out, city officials blamed unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork for slowing down the problem.

This time, officials blame the delay on strict, anti-fraud laws. DNAinfo reports:

Officials from the Department of Small Business Services acknowledged to DNAinfo New York that the application process for the federal funds has been long and complicated. After fraudulent use of federal money following disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the government has become even stricter in how they distribute relief funds, officials said.

According to SBS officials, out of more than 335 applications submitted, 143 applications are currently with the lender that decides on the loan and grant amounts, the final step in the process, and should be approved soon. Another 40 are in the final review phase with the SBS, before they are sent to the lender, and 155 applications are in earlier stages of the process.

If you have a small business and want to apply to the grant, the guidelines can be found here. For those who have already applied for the grant and loan program, the SBS and mayor’s office said they are working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to try and get the loan and grants out more quickly. They’re also hoping to remove the cap on the amount of funding a business can receive.

During the meeting, Marty Golden used a microphone similar to the one in this picture. Photo by Erica Sherman

State Senator Marty Golden covered a range of issues from heroin to flood insurance at a well-attended meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting last night.

Here’s the cliff notes to Golden’s appearance:

  • He talked about the high concentration of senior citizens in Brooklyn, especially in the south, and said that this population needed to be respected and not forced out of the borough by increases in taxes.
  • The heroin problem in New York City has reached an all time high, Golden said. The problem is especially acute in Brooklyn, where many children are dying of overdoses. And he blamed lawmakers going easy on drug dealers when they repealed much of the Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1970s several years ago. Since then, much of the Rockefeller Drug Laws have returned, a point Golden is proud of. “Drug dealers are the bad guys and I want to get them off the streets,” he said.
  • On the point of legalizing weed, Golden said he was against it. “If anyone thinks marijuana isn’t a gateway drug, they’re fooling themselves,” Golden said.
  • When it comes to the “nightmare” of Manhattan Beach residents, Golden wants to build up infrastructure in the area to prevent future flooding. He discussed the possibility of things like flood gates and retainer walls.
  • While on the topic of Superstorm Sandy, Golden is trying to prevent flood insurance from going up for those in flood zones.
  • He also addressed the big news this week about the possibility of a national competition and the New York and New Jersey area losing $1 billion in disaster aid. “We’re all going to stand together to make sure that this money stays here,” he said.

(Source: Sheepshead Bay’s Randazzo’s after the flood)

New York City, New York State and New Jersey may have to compete for more than $1 billion in promised Superstorm Sandy relief that the federal government is now looking to redirect to victims of other natural disasters.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is considering sending off $1 billion of an as-yet unspent $3.5 billion in Sandy relief funds to other parts of the country that are dealing with their own natural disasters. This decision could leave New York City short of funds at a time when there is a renewed effort by local politicians to pick up the pace on programs like Build it Back, potentially throttling the program just as it’s poised to hit its stride.

When Superstorm Sandy hit, Congress set aside about $60 billion in 2013 for Sandy aid. More than $15 billion went to HUD for distribution on the local level to help relief efforts and get people back in their homes. Since then, about $10.5 billion has been spent, leaving $3.6 billion still available, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reports:

HUD officials recently briefed members of Congress on a proposal that would create a national resiliency competition to more widely distribute about $1 billion to $2 billion of the remaining Sandy aid to areas that have recently suffered disasters. It would be the first time HUD held a national competition for federal disaster money. The contest would reward projects that make communities more resilient against future disasters, according to people familiar with the plans.

Senator Charles Schumer said yesterday that he will fight any attempt to take money away from the region’s aid relief.

“We will fight to ensure that every one of New York’s needs are met before a national competition sends a single Sandy relief dollar elsewhere,” Schumer said via Bloomberg News.

And Schumer isn’t the only one who said that he will fight this possibility. Bloomberg News writes:

Representative Michael Grimm, a New York Republican whose district includes Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, has been in “constant contact” with Donovan [the Secretary of HUD] to stress his district’s needs, said Nick Iacono, a spokesman for the lawmaker.

Grimm and other Congressional representatives sent a letter yesterday to HUD’s Secretary Shaun Donovan asking for more information about the proposed reallocation, The Journal reported yesterday.

The letter to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan was signed by 13 members of the House of Representatives. They expressed “concern with the lack of consultation and briefing between HUD and members of the House and their staff on this issue.”

The announcement comes at a time when city officials are paying renewed attention to relief efforts. Initiatives like the Build it Back program, which had been in a lull until recently, have become the center of attention. The program is partially funded by HUD money and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently announced intentions to repair the homes of all those who qualify, rather than just the financially neediest applicants – greatly increasing the estimated cost of the program.

The Journal reports:

In the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration has set an ambitious goal of getting 500 Sandy-damaged homes rebuilt by the end of the summer; currently only nine homes have started construction. City officials have said they need $1 billion in additional federal money for the Sandy recovery, and even more to complete a city resiliency plan.

“We’re working closely with HUD and our federal partners to ensure that we have the resources to fully recover and rebuild. It’s vital that funds get to the NYC homeowners and public housing residents who need them,” a city spokeswoman said in an email.

De Blasio has criticized HUD’s decision. “The legislation was passed to serve the needs of people in New York and New Jersey who were devastated by Sandy. And it was about both getting people back on their feet and providing the resiliency we need for the future,” de Blasio said via the Daily News.

The feds, however, expressed puzzlement at the reaction, saying that the bill authorizing the $60 billion aide package explicitly stated that a portion of the funds could be redirected to other disaster zones, and that the Sandy region should never have relied so heavily on the third and final round of funding. The Journal notes:

Federal officials said the city and states have overestimated their remaining needs. They said local representatives shouldn’t have expected the third round of funding to provide a significant infusion of new funds based on how the $60 billion Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill passed in 2013 was written.

In the three years covered by the Sandy aid bill, 208 major disasters have been declared by the federal government. A person familiar with the proposal said 48 states would be eligible for the national competition, along with Puerto Rico, District of Columbia and 18 other areas including New York City and Joplin, Mo., which was hit by a tornado in May 2011.

A portion of the third round of funding would also likely go to Rebuild by Design, a regional resiliency competition that HUD launched with much fanfare. Secretary Shaun Donovan, a former New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development commissioner, is said to have been inspired by his work under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had a propensity for holding competitions to generate excitement around government work.

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) will be Wednesday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

Guest speaker, State Senator Marty Golden, will discuss and answer your questions on topics including:

  • How does the New York State budget affect you?
  • Will your property taxes go up?
  • What is New York State doing to make sure your home is not flooded again?
  • Is the legislature allocating more funds for Sandy-damaged communities?

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. For more, contact MBCG at (718) 200-1845 or manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com, or visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.