u.s. disaster resourses and links

1906 SF earthquake


2005 Hurricane Katrina

Tiffany M. Gardner, Alec Irwin, and Curtis W. Peterson. No shelter from the storm: Reclaiming the right to housing and protecting the health of vulnerable communities in post-Katrina New Orleans


“Eight years after Hurricane Katrina, many evacuees yet to return” Al Jezeera. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/8/29/eight-years-afterkatrinalowincomeevacueeshaveyettoreturn.html

“Hurricane Katrina evacuees: who they are, where they are, and how they are faring.” http://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2008/03/art3full.pdf

2012 Hurricane Sandy

Rutgers University Sandy Special: http://njdatabank.newark.rutgers.edu/special-sandy

Pratt Center: http://prattcenter.net/research/toward-informed-rebuilding-documenting-sandys-impacts

Hurricane Sandy’s Disproportionate Impact on NYC’s Most Vulnerable Communities: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/ahuang/hurricane_sandys_disproportion.html

ONE YEAR LATER: HOUSING MISSION PROVIDES MORE THAN SHELTER TO SANDY SURVIVORS (NJ FEMA): http://www.fema.gov/news-release/2013/09/26/one-year-later-housing-mission-provides-more-shelter-sandy-survivors

white house sandy page: http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/hurricane/sandy

nyc “A Stronger, More Resilient New York” plan : http://www.nyc.gov/html/sirr/html/report/report.shtml

interactive map of damage in new jersey: http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/13/03/14/assessing-damage-from-superstorm-sandy/

OEM Sandy page http://www.nyc.gov/html/oem/html/get_prepared/sandy_relief_recovery.shtml

MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES NEW $5.5 MILLION MATCHING GRANT PROGRAM FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY HURRICANE SANDY: http://www.nyc.gov/html/fund/downloads/pdf/press_releases/441-12%20%28Small%20Business%20Grants%29.pdf

Updates on NYC’s Hurricane Sandy Recovery: http://www.mikebloomberg.com/index.cfm?objectid=00608188-C29C-7CA2-FFD9BB1F6B6B7D75

Christie unveils billion-dollar Sandy recovery plan: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/christie_chronicles/Christie-unveils-billion-dollar-Sandy-recovery-plan.html

Mayor Bloomberg Announces New Hurricane Sandy Recovery Initiatives for NYC, Posted By Lori Zimmer On February 6, 2013: link:http://inhabitat.com/nyc/mayor-bloomberg-announces-new-hurricane-sandy-recovery-initiatives-for-nyc/

This morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined NYC’s new Hurricane Sandy Recovery [5] plan, which shows how the allotted $1.77 billion in federal grants will be used. The funds will aid those suffering from the most damage [6] through a series of eight programs that will not only help rebuild, but also get businesses back on their feet and help communities grow stronger through the reconstruction process. The eight programs will fall under three categories: housing recovery, business recovery and infrastructure resiliency.

Housing recovery [8] will rebuild in three measures. For single family homes, $350 million will be allocated to help the 9,300 households whose homes were damaged [9] or destroyed during the hurricane. $250 million will help the 12,790 multi-family units that were damaged or destroyed in the form of grants and low-interest loans. Public housing developments will also be upgraded with preventative measures, such as back up generators and other features thanks to a grant of $120 million.

For Sandy-ravaged businesses [10], a total of $185 million will help business owners get back on their feet. Small and mid-sized companies could be eligible for $100,000 investments, with $1 million set aside in resiliency investments for large companies. Low interest loans will also be available for affected businesses up to $150,000, as well as grants of up to $60,000. An extra $5 million will be allocated for “Race to the Top “ style competitions, which would invigorate and encourage projects featuring resiliency products and technologies to serve as models for other businesses to prevent future damage in natural disasters.

Finally, $140 million in funds will help reinforce the city’s infrastructure in the affected neighborhoods. To reinstate these areas as thriving centers, $100 million will go toward new projects such as attracting new or growing companies to help affected areas thrive economically. In addition to the economic incentive, $40 million will be awarded to projects that reinforce utilities such as liquid fuel networks, renewable energy systems and telecommunications.

Article printed from Inhabitat New York City: http://inhabitat.com/nyc

URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/mayor-bloomberg-announces-new-hurricane-sandy-recovery-initiatives-for-nyc/

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[5] Hurricane Sandy Recovery: http://inhabitat.com/tag/hurricane-sandy/

[6] aid those suffering from the most damage: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/nyc-restore-mayor-bloomberg-launches-new-one-stop-hurricane-sandy-recovery-locations-in-hardest-hit-neighborhoods/nyc-restore-restoration-cen/

[7] Image: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/mayor-bloomberg-announces-new-hurricane-sandy-recovery-initiatives-for-nyc/mayor-bloomberg-sandy-2/

[8] Housing recovery: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/habitat-for-humanitys-fleet-of-hurricane-sandy-recovery-mobile-response-units-help-rebuild-in-ny-and-nj/ny-habitat-for-humanity-7/

[9] homes were damaged: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/femas-new-maps-for-nyc-add-35000-homes-to-flood-zones/

[10] Sandy-ravaged businesses: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/sandy-destroyed-persian-carpet-made-of-real-sugar-gets-restored-thanks-to-domino-sugar/

[11] NYC Mayors Office: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nycmayorsoffice/

March 29, 2013

New York Times: Relying on Hotel Rooms for Thousands Uprooted by Hurricane Sandy



Five months after Hurricane Sandy, more than 2,000 people who were displaced by the storm remain in hotels in New York City, leading some officials to acknowledge that the city had not been prepared for the challenges in finding them housing.

City officials said those still in hotels were mostly poor, with no home to return to or not enough income to qualify for available apartments. They have also had difficulty obtaining assistance from existing disaster programs, social service groups said.

There are more than 900 households scattered among more than 45 hotels around the city in federal and city hotel programs, officials said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars on the hotel rooms, at an average cost of $252 a night.

About 7,000 residents went to evacuation shelters in the weeks after the storm on Oct. 29.

The city’s commissioner of homeless services, Seth Diamond, said in an interview this week that pulling together resources for the poorest of those displaced had taken time. But Mr. Diamond emphasized that hundreds of families were in the pipeline for public-housing apartments that have opened up in recent weeks. Another 150 families are expected to receive vouchers that subsidize 70 percent of their rents, he said, but they are required to go through evaluations, including background checks.

Until the needs of the evacuees were assessed, he said, “The hotels provided flexibility and availability that you can’t get anywhere else.”

City officials said the hotel stays should end by April 30 but they would not offer guarantees that everyone would move into apartments.

Some evacuees said they had been told by case workers that they could end up back in a shelter if no housing was available by the end of the month.

“Shelter is one of many possibilities,” said Barbara Brancaccio, a spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Homeless Services. But, she said, the ultimate goal was to get everyone permanent housing.

While FEMA pays for the hotels, long-term rental assistance, which the city is requesting, depends on recovery funds that are subject to Congressional approval and interagency agreements.

Some housing experts and elected officials said the city’s reliance on hotels underscored how federal and local disaster planning had to be revised to include more emergency rental assistance.

“Why are we spending money on hotels instead of helping families pay the rent?” asked Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions, a nonprofit organization in New York that works to end homelessness. She added, “For a fraction of the cost, families could be in a stable situation and getting a running start in putting their lives together.”

The damage from Hurricane Sandy revealed how many residents of coastal areas in New York, especially in Brooklyn and Queens, were renters with low incomes.

Of more than half a million households across New York and New Jersey that registered for assistance from FEMA by February, 43 percent made less than $30,000 a year, according to studies by Enterprise Community Partners and the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University.

Some of those who have still not found permanent housing had been living in illegal basement apartments and in other living arrangements without leases or other documents needed for apartment hunting or immediate federal rental assistance. A small group, about 2 percent, are illegal immigrants and another small group has not cooperated in efforts to place them, officials testified at a City Council hearing in February.

But mostly, they are poor.

The city has encouraged those who were displaced to register with its Housing Recovery Portal, which opened in early December with 2,500 vacant apartments. But as many as 80 percent of those still in hotels cannot afford the listings, according to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

Advocates for homeless people and some city officials say a more effective response must be put together before the next storm. “The city may have been overly optimistic,” said Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat and housing expert. “You need to have emergency rental vouchers ready to be deployed.”

For now, the city’s hotel evacuees share the fate of other disaster survivors.

After Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed a greater portion of the housing stock in New Orleans than Hurricane Sandy did in New York, thousands of residents remained in hotels for years.

“The problem with hotels is that it’s not a normal life — you can’t cook a meal,” said Martha J. Kegel, executive director of Unity of Greater New Orleans, a coalition of agencies that helped place residents. “You can’t even store much food. There’s going to be domestic violence because there’s not enough room. It’s not a good situation for people to be long-term.”

Wanda Wilson, a guest of the Park Central Hotel near Times Square since February, broke down in tears twice in conversation, as if Hurricane Sandy had just hit her ground-floor studio apartment in Coney Island, which, she said, was still damaged.

Ms. Wilson, who is 29 and has a 1-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter, said the stylish but cramped hotel room, which does not have a kitchen, had not been easy on her two children and her husband, who, she said, had been hospitalized with mental illness and is now in jail because of a fight.

For now, Ms. Wilson spends her days trying to find an apartment, home schooling her daughter, Daleena, and visiting the Disney store and Toys “R” Us in Times Square, where the Ferris wheel reminds the family of the Coney Island Boardwalk before the storm.

“The whole situation is really messed up,” she said. “It’s a waste of money.”




Apartments in Privately-Owned Buildings Being Made Available to Households Displaced by Hurricane Sandy

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua, and Director of Housing Recovery Operations Brad Gair today announced NYC Housing Recovery, a City initiative to make a pool of vacant apartments available exclusively for New Yorkers that have been displaced from their homes because of Hurricane Sandy. Displaced households will be able to register with the City for assistance in finding short or long-term housing through this new program. Leaders of the City’s major real estate trade organizations including Rent Stabilization Association President Joseph Strasburg, the New York State Association for Affordable Housing President Donald Capoccia, and the Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola, have worked to mobilize their memberships to help set aside thousands of apartments over the coming months for lease to storm victims.

“Thousands of New Yorkers can’t live in their homes, either due to severe structural damage, or a lack of heat and electricity,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “As we work to repair those damaged homes as quickly as possible, we are also working to connect people to housing options that fit their individual needs. This program will help New Yorkers who need a safe, warm place to stay, especially as the cold weather sets in.”

“This initiative is an important step to ensuring that those who lost or were displaced from their homes have all available resources to locate new housing,” said HUD Secretary Donovan. “It is imperative that we continue to work across federal, state and local lines combining government and private initiatives to ensure that families can find a safe, stable place to rebuild their lives.”

“This program will be immensely helpful and a lifeline to New Yorkers who are desperate for housing. In 2011, when I proposed the creation of an online housing application, many benefits to an online system were noted,” said Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “I am thrilled that this system will now help even more New Yorkers and serve as a tool in aiding Hurricane Sandy victims. I would like to thank NYSAFAH, RSA, and REBNY for working with their members to set aside thousands of invaluable housing units.”

As a result of Hurricane Sandy, many New Yorkers across the city are unable to stay in or return to their homes and need to find stable short-term or long-term housing solutions. New Yorkers who have been displaced by the storm can create an account on the NYC Housing Recovery online portal to learn about housing options and find guidance on how to pursue housing opportunities on their own, or with help from the City with the aim of signing rental leases with the property owners and landlords.

“The need for shelter is something we all understand, and helping to provide relief to those most in need has been the imperative for all involved in this effort. In a city with extremely low vacancy rates, finding housing after losing your home or apartment can seem overwhelming. By pooling available apartments and providing guidance, and with the invaluable cooperation of our partners in the real estate industry, our hope is that we’re taking some of the hardship out of the search,” said HPD Commissioner Wambua. “Finding interim housing is a much needed step towards regaining stability and beginning the recovery process.”

“We’re making quick progress in getting displaced New Yorkers back in their homes through NYC Rapid Repairs,” said Housing Recovery Operations Director Gair. “But for people whose homes need more than a quick fix, tapping into the vacant apartment stock is a great solution. Our partners in government and the private sector have been instrumental in getting these initiatives up and running.”

People should first register online with FEMA or by calling 1-800-621-3362 to receive a FEMA registration number and a determination letter, or e-mail stating that they are eligible for FEMA’s rental assistance because they cannot return to their homes. Depending on location and the type of apartment chosen for relocation, FEMA’s rental assistance may help offset the cost of rent at the new apartment. If a household did not qualify through FEMA, but are not able to stay in or return to their home due to the storm, they may still register at NYC Housing Recovery, though housing options may be more limited.

Once registered with FEMA, New Yorkers can go to www.nyc.gov to find out more about NYC Housing Recovery and where they can register with the City on the portal and learn about the housing opportunities. Registering with the City will allow displaced New Yorkers to be kept informed of any additional housing options should they become available. After completing a profile, they will be presented with two options:

  • People who want help finding an apartment or need help because of income limitations or disability status will be able to continue the NYC Housing Recovery portal registration process by providing additional information. Once completed, a representative from the City will contact the applicant and help match them with one of the approximately 2,500 available apartments which include income-restricted and market rate units.
  • People who wish to find available housing on their own can do so through Urban Edge’s Sandy Disaster Recovery page, or through FEMA’s housing portal. Urban Edge has listings of available market-rate apartments, separate from the 2,500 units available through the City-assisted option, that have been pooled by the real estate industry for storm victims. Both sites allow people to control the search themselves, make direct connections with managing agents, and negotiate the lease.

The NYC Housing Recovery portal has been launched in its beta version in an effort to begin to address the housing emergency and connect people to available units as quickly as possible. The City will assess the system in real time as it is being used, and will address any issues as they arise.

If the internet isn’t an option, people can call 311 to be directed to storm housing representatives who are available from 8am – 8pm, seven days a week. These representatives will register people over the phone and help guide them through the process. People may also go to any of the City’s Restoration Centers where representatives will be on hand to assist with the registration process.

“NYSAFAH is proud to be a part of New York City’s initiative to secure housing for displaced victims of Hurricane Sandy,” said Alison Badgett, Executive Director of the New York State Association for Affordable Housing. “Our members are eager to help in housing the many low- and moderate-income families who were impacted by the storm. With hundreds of units dedicated to this effort, New York’s affordable housing industry is working with HPD to provide individuals and families the security and comfort of a home when they need it most.”

“Hurricane Sandy left many New Yorkers without a roof over their heads or a safe place to call home. As the largest real estate industry trade organization in New York, the RSA has made it our mission to understand and respond to the needs of our City’s tenants,” said Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association. “In this time of crisis those needs are paramount, and we are proud to be a key partner in this effort to provide relief and shelter to victims of the storm. Working with our partners in government, RSA members have answered the call to lend to a hand to our fellow New Yorkers by making hundreds of apartments available.”

“Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact on several of the City’s neighborhoods.  Since then, New York’s real estate industry has worked tirelessly to get the properties damaged by the storm operational as soon as possible for our commercial and residential tenants so that people could get back to work or to their homes,” said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “At the same time, we have been working with our government agencies to identify unoccupied residential units and to make them available to aid displaced New Yorkers. Like all New Yorkers, we will continue to do whatever we can to help those in need.”

NYC Housing Recovery was created by the City after a meeting organized by HUD Secretary Donovan that gathered local government officials and real estate trade groups in the immediate aftermath of the storm.  Following the meeting, government and real estate industry officials worked to identify and work through the complex issues and barriers that restricted landlords from offering their apartments to storm victims as interim housing, allowing the real estate industry to collectively identify the available apartments.

Apartments made available through the NYC Housing Recovery portal may be available for short- or long-term lease, are located in all five boroughs, and may be either market-rate or income-restricted. The term of the lease and type of housing will depend on a household’s specific needs.  There may or may not be fees associated with executing the lease, at the discretion of the owner, manager or realtor. The supply of this housing is limited; every effort will be made to accommodate people on a first-come first-served basis. The supply of apartments will continue to change, and the City will update households that have registered on the NYC Housing Recovery portal about additional housing options.

11/5/12 New York Times


With $200 Million in U.S. Housing Aid, Officials Begin Relocating the Displaced

By , and

“We don’t really know yet, in truth,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said at a briefing, adding that the estimates ranged from 10,000 to 40,000 people. “You’re going to have some people who need short-term housing solutions and some who need long-term housing solutions, and those are two different things.”“It is manageable; it is large,” Mr. Cuomo added, saying the federal government “would defray the cost with us.”Federal officials said more than 45,000 families had been approved for housing assistance totaling more than $203 million — money that would let them find a temporary place to live or repair damage to their homes.The approvals were the start of a housing assistance program that will accelerate in the coming weeks, as tens of thousands of people left homeless by the storm look for places to stay while their homes or apartment buildings are repaired.A small number of families — about 450 who have checked into hotels so far, officials said — have been approved for stays in hotels paid directly by the federal government. Federal officials said they were approving the rental assistance and hotel stays because even after utilities were reconnected, thousands of people could not simply return to houses that had sustained serious damage and needed major work.“As power comes on, it is becoming clear for many people the longer-term issue will be rebuilding and repairing their homes,” said W. Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.Shaun Donovan, the secretary of housing and urban development, which subsidizes tens of thousands of its housing units in New York and New Jersey, said the agency was still working on figuring out how many units would need to be renovated, forcing residents to relocate until the work was done.So far, that count is relatively small, he said, including one complex in Atlantic City. But it will climb in the coming days as the assessments are completed.The homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, who visited Coney Island on Monday, noted that the storm had hit public housing particularly hard. She said that for housing-project residents and others displaced by the storm, “no option is off the table” for temporary housing, including rental units, hotel and motel rooms, trailers and prefabricated units.Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said housing projects in New York City were recovering. Of 402 buildings run by the New York City Housing Authority that were hit by the storm, 174 buildings still lacked heat and hot water and 114 lacked power. He said the authority had pumped out all its flooded buildings.“The big numbers come down quickly,” Mr. Bloomberg said at a briefing. “The challenge is that when we get down to the hard core of real problems where there’s no quick, easy, inexpensive fix, that’s when we’re going to really going to be challenged.”He said he had appointed a former deputy commissioner of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and former federal recovery officer for 9/11, Brad Gair, to direct housing recovery operations, overseeing the city’s efforts to find housing for people displaced by the storm.The mayor said Mr. Gair would start by preparing an inventory of “transitional and temporary housing options” and coordinate efforts to move people into short-term quarters.Officials in New Jersey said they had asked for assistance from out-of-state inspectors to help let people back into their homes faster, and a unit of the State Department of Community Affairs planned to start electrical and building inspections later in the week. FEMA officials said that more than 1,070 housing inspectors were at work in New York, with another 700 in New Jersey and 46 in Connecticut.In some communities on Long Island, building inspectors were already going from one storm-damaged house to the next, inspecting circuit breakers and notifying the Long Island Power Authority whether power could be turned on safely.Communication and coordination remained spotty. Officials in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, saying they were still reaching out to towns and villages to assess temporary housing needs, declined to provide estimates. Vanessa Baird-Streeter, the communications director for Suffolk County, said about 10,000 homes had been damaged, but she said officials were still determining how many were uninhabitable.Up and down the storm-ravaged South Shore, local officials reported widespread needs.“We need housing bad,” said Mayor Andrew Hardwick of Freeport, a seaside community of about 43,000 in Nassau County.He said that flooding had damaged 2,000 to 3,000 homes in Freeport and that many families had continued to occupy their damaged homes. Many may be forced out as the weather turns colder and mold in their waterlogged homes grows and spreads.Mr. Hardwick said he had asked for 100 FEMA trailers and would install them on athletic fields and in schoolyards.But he had a more immediate — and potentially more permanent — idea in mind. He said he had asked the federal government to intercede with banks to convert two private housing developments that were completed but went unoccupied after the housing market collapsed.“We could put in a team of tradespeople to go in and bring the electrical systems and plumbing up to code,” he said. “That could be a lot quicker than putting mobile homes in place.”


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