Overview

New York City built and tested a post-disaster housing prototype for residents who may lose their homes as the result of a disaster, such as a catastrophic coastal storm. Through the Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program, the City created a multi-story, multi-family interim housing solution that will work in urban areas across the country. Interim housing is post-disaster housing. It is used after emergency sheltering, and before those affected by a disaster can move into housing they can sustain without post-disaster aid.

The Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program extends the City's Coastal Storm Plan and constitutes a critical step in New York City's effort to plan ahead for long-term housing recovery after a catastrophic disaster. These resources can be adapted to suit any city in the country.

Because of the city's high population density and the desire to resettle as many residents as possible in their former neighborhoods, NYC Emergency Management and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) developed a new approach to interim housing that provides higher-density living spaces than the single-household homes or trailers typically used for post-disaster housing.

Following the What If New York City... competition, the agencies used the best entries to create an Urban Post-Disaster Housing Specification, essentially a blueprint for the manufactured housing industry to use to create post-disaster housing. It contained stringent requirements for safety, environmental quality, durability, and universal design. This specification is being revised to reflect lessons learned from the prototype, and can serve as the basis for big cities around the country to procure urban post-disaster housing in the future.

NYC Emergency Management then developed a guide, or "playbook," for post-disaster site selection with design principles for keeping residents in the community and allowing them to live and work in their neighborhood.

In 2012, NYC Emergency Management secured funding from FEMA to build a prototype and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was designated as the project manager for the prototype construction.

About the Prototype

the prototype at night

On April 26, 2014, the prototype was assembled on site at the corner of Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place (adjacent to the NYC Emergency Management headquarters) in Brooklyn, NY. The project built was chosen as the result of a Request for Proposal that called for a full spectrum of services as they would be requested after disaster.

The prototype is a three-story structure with two, three-bedroom units and one, one-bedroom unit. The unit on the ground floor serves as a public gallery with information about the project, and tours are available by request.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers served as the project manager, and the contractor was American Manufactured Structures & Services, working with Garrison Architects, Mark Line Industries (which fabricated the prototype), and Anastos Engineering Associates. View selections from the drawing set

The site for the prototype is a parking lot owned by the City that measures approximately 40' x 100'. The site was chosen because it demonstrates many of the challenges for post-disaster housing deployment in urban areas and has many of the assets that those displaced by disaster would need to re-establish a sense of community. NYC Emergency Management reviewed the site in line with the process in the Urban Post-Disaster Neighborhood Design Playbook.

With a completed multi-unit prototype, the City learned about the full spectrum of logistical and administrative challenges that could accompany a rapid deployment of manufactured housing units to New York City.

  • To understand how the prototype could be used for large-scale urban restoration, the City partnered with the Pratt School of Architecture's Recovery, Adaptation, Mitigation and Planning program to study how the prototype could be aggregated to restore a neighborhood. The units were occupied by volunteers from City agencies who lived in the prototype for a week at a time. View the Interim Housing Builds a Neighborhood study
  • The New York University Tandon School of Engineering conducted a study to see how well the units suited the needs of residents. View the Post-Occupancy Evaluation

All documents from this program be found on the Resources page.

Leadership

The Urban Post-Disaster Housing Prototype Program has been funded and administered by the following City and federal agencies:

  • NYC Emergency Management
  • NYC Department of Design and Construction
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District

The program is also supported by the following stakeholders:

  • New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services
  • New York City Department of City Planning
  • New York City Department of Environmental Protection
  • New York City Department of Buildings
  • New York City Department of Transportation
  • New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
  • New York City Fire Department
  • NYC Mayor's Housing Recovery Office
  • NYC Mayor's Office of Operations
  • NYC Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities
  • Metropolitan Transit Authority
  • Con Edison
  • FEMA Region II
  • Regional Catastrophic Planning Team
  • New York City Police Department
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers