Mayor Bloomberg Announces First Acquisition of Hurricane Sandy-damaged Property Through NYC Build It Back

October 10, 2013

Using Federal Funding, NYC Build it Back Helps Residents Return to Safe, Sustainable Housing

City to Sell Acquired Properties for Redevelopment; Use Proceeds to Help Others Impacted by Storm

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations Brad Gair and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas today announced the first acquisition of a Hurricane Sandy-damaged home by the City through NYC Build it Back, a Federally-funded, City program to assist homeowners, landlords and tenants in the five boroughs whose properties were impacted by the storm. The acquired property, located in the Tottenville neighborhood of Staten Island, was owned by Patricia Dresch, whose husband, George, and 13-year-old daughter, Angela, were killed during the storm. Mrs. Dresch will use the funding from the acquisition to purchase a new home in Tottenville. The City will facilitate the redevelopment of properties acquired through NYC Build It Back in a more resilient way. Since Hurricane Sandy, the City has spent more than $1 billion as part of the recovery effort – from debris removal to helping more than 54,000 New Yorkers restore heat, hot water and electricity free-of-charge. Now that Federal approvals, reviews and other additional requirements have been met, the City is able to begin to draw upon parts of the $1.77 billion in aid from the Federal government. An extended government shutdown, however, could hinder distribution of this Federal aid to the City and further prolong an already slow and burdensome process. The Mayor made the announcement about the acquisition at Staten Island Borough Hall, where he was joined by Mrs. Dresch, Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, Congressman Michael Grimm, Assemblyman Joseph Borelli and Council Member Vincent Ignizio.

“Since Hurricane Sandy, the City has spent more than $1 billion on response and recovery work, including reopening schools, public housing and hospitals,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’re happy to be helping Pat today – and we’ll continue to help everyone else who’s eligible just as quickly as we can. But further holdups could result from a continued shutdown of the Federal government, and it would really help if Washington continued to do its part, too.”

“The City has led a massive response effort since Hurricane Sandy – from creating a first-of-its-kind a Rapid Repairs program that restored heat, hot water and power in thousands of homes to providing impacted businesses with approximately $20 million in loans and grants through public-private partnerships,” said Deputy Mayor Holloway. “NYC Build it Back is already working with thousands of homeowners to assess their needs and in the coming months, we’ll make repairs on thousands of homes.”

“No one can ever replace what Pat Dresch has lost,” said Director Gair. “But through NYC Build it Back, we have helped her return to place she can call home – and we hope to be able to help even more New Yorkers in the weeks to come.”

“Hurricane Sandy threw our shorefront communities into disarray, but New Yorkers shouldn’t feel that they have to go through the process of recovery alone,” said Commissioner Visnauskas. “HPD is proud to be playing a vital role on the Build It Back team in rebuilding resilient new homes, facilitating acquisitions, and providing renovation loans to multifamily properties. Getting people back into resilient, stable and secure housing is essential to ensuring that our communities come back stronger than ever. We are a city of neighborhoods and neighbors who are caring and compassionate and we at HPD are deeply committed to this unprecedented rebuilding effort.”

NYC Build it Back was created to help New Yorkers still recovering from the storm return to permanent, sustainable housing through various options, including rebuilding and reimbursing for eligible out-of-pocket repair expenses. There are six NYC Build it Back Centers located throughout communities in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. To date, more than 23,500 New Yorkers have registered for the program, including 10,000 registrants from Queens, nearly 7,500 from Brooklyn and more than 5,000 from Staten Island.

Once a NYC Build it Back reviews and confirms that a customer is eligible, a visit will be scheduled to the customer’s home to evaluate the damage and determine what repairs may need to be completed, including elevating homes when necessary. As the City receives the first installment in Federal Community Block Development funds, NYC Build it Back participants will meet with Housing Recovery Specialists over the next few weeks to review and choose options to help them return to safe, sustainable housing. Registrants will be presented with options that include:

  • Repair: A NYC Build it Back professional contractor can help eligible customers whose homes require minor to moderate repairs. Repairs to homes that have been substantially damaged, as defined by the NYC Build Code, would include elevation to at least two feet higher than the most recent FEMA flood maps. Customers also have the option of selecting their own contractor within Federal and program guidelines.
  • Rebuild: If a home is substantially damaged and needs to be rebuilt, qualifying customers can choose a home model that is designed specifically for their community, uses the best available resiliency standards and is designed by a NYC Build it Back developer. Alternatively, customers can choose their own architect and contractor to develop and build their homes within Federal and program guidelines.
  • Reimbursement: The City can also help customers recover eligible out-of-pocket costs for minor repairs already made to their homes that satisfy all Department of Housing and Urban Development and other requirements.
  • Acquisition: Some owners may want to voluntarily sell their homes and in some cases, the City will be able to work with communities to strategically redevelop these properties in a smarter, more resilient way. Housing Recovery Specialists will be able to explain these options.

Borough President James P. Molinaro said, “The Mayor made a promise to help the victims of this storm, and a promise made is a promise kept. I commend the administration for their efforts thus far and going forward to help those who were so deeply affected by this tragedy rebuild their lives. Build It Back is a good, solid program that covers many areas, including repair and rebuilding, reimbursement, and property acquisition, and I encourage homeowners affected by the storm who are still struggling with their property to utilize the program.”

“I couldn’t think of a more deserving candidate for the first city acquisition than Pat Dresch,” said Congressman Michael Grimm. “While this will never compensate for her tragic loss, this is a significant step in the recovery process, as well as the healing process. I applaud the City for its efforts and give a special thanks to Councilman Vinny Ignizio who went above and beyond to make this happen. This acquisition is a perfect example of how the federal Sandy funds should be implemented to help those devastated by the storm move forward and recover.”

“I am proud and gratified to know what started with our visit to New Orleans in late January has reached fruition and helped the first Staten Islander,” said Council Member James Oddo. “From the moment we heard about the Louisiana Land Trust, Councilman Ignizio and I knew we needed to bring a version of it to our home community. The many discussions and meetings with the Bloomberg Administration over the last 10 months have resulted in what will be a robust acquisition for redevelopment program. This initiative will not only help Staten Islanders in the short term, but gives us a chance to transform their communities and provide a more resilient, vibrant place for them to live.”

“For the past year we all have been working to protect our city and help people recover, while at the same time clinging to signs of hope that we can all move forward towards a new beginning,” said Council Member Vincent Ignizio. “This acquisition gives us all that hope. When Councilman Oddo and I first proposed acquisition for redevelopment after learning about the Louisiana land trust on a trip to New Orleans, we knew it struck a good balance between those who need to move on and out of their Sandy-ravaged properties and abandoning vibrant communities in New York City altogether. Pat’s story is a very personal one to many of us including Congressman Grimm, Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Holloway – we all pushed for this day and hope this gives her some solace. We have much more to do and will continue to fight for the many others in New York City who are still seeking help recovering and finding a new direction of their own.”

“Acquisition for redevelopment is a key part of Sandy recovery,” said Assemblyman Joseph Borelli. “While some areas should be completely returned to nature, other communities need a program that allows those to do so without creating a patchwork of vacant properties in our neighborhoods. This program does just that.”

“The devastation that Superstorm Sandy brought to Staten Island forever changed the lives of our community,” said Assemblyman Michael Cusick. “It is only fitting that the first recipient to receive support from the NYC Build it back program is Ms. Patricia Dresch. Hopefully, allocating funds from the program to help her purchase a new home will be one of many important steps in helping her move forward with her life. I look forward to the implementation of this program to address unmet housing needs of more families who have been waiting for relief.”

“We are so pleased this acquisition program is progressing so that Islanders constantly inundated by flooding have an alternative,” said State Senator Diane Savino.

About NYC Build it Back

NYC Build it Back complements the assistance already provided to New Yorkers by FEMA, private insurance claims and other sources. Homeowners, landlords and cooperative and condominium owners with primary residences in the five boroughs are encouraged to apply to find out how they may be eligible by calling 311 and ask for NYC Build it Back or visiting to www.nyc.gov.

The Federal government has allocated $1.77 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery grants to New York City to assist with housing repairs and reconstruction, grants and loans for impacted businesses, and infrastructure and resiliency projects. With Federal laws and regulations being met, NYC Build it Back will be able to start using approximately $648 million of those Federal disaster recovery funds to help assist New Yorkers.

About the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations

The Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations is committed to planning and implementing innovative and effective solutions to the housing needs caused by Hurricane Sandy. To this end, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Operations created and will administer NYC Build it Back, a program to assist residents in the five boroughs whose primary homes were damaged by the storm.


Contact:

Marc La Vorgna / Kamran Mumtaz (212) 788-2958

Peter Spencer (Housing Recovery) (212) 615-8085