De Blasio Administration, U.S. Senator Schumer and Congressman Meeks Break Ground on $67 Million Recovery and Resiliency Project in the Rockaways; First Funded Project of $3 Billion FEMA Grant - Largest in US History - Moves Forward

June 24, 2016

Advancing NYC’s resiliency goals, historic federal grant funds roof replacement, improvements and security upgrades at Ocean Bay-Oceanside, impacting more than 400 families

The Rockaways project marks first of 33 major public housing recovery and resiliency projects funded by the historic $3 billion FEMA grant secured by de Blasio administration, U.S. Senator Schumer and Congressional Delegation

De Blasio administration, U.S. Senator Schumer to hard-hit, Sandy-impacted NYCHA residents: “There’s more help where this came from”

NEW YORK–– Today, the de Blasio administration, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye broke ground on a $67 million reconstruction project at the Ocean Bay-Oceanside development funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The announcement comes on the heels of last year’s $3 billion Sandy recovery assistance provided by FEMA – the largest in FEMA history.

“Many of us still remember the weeks of cold and darkness after Sandy – including thousands of NYCHA residents. People across all five boroughs are still feeling the impact today. However, with this $67 million investment, we will continue to fortify NYCHA buildings and create a more resilient City and so that residents never have to go through this again,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We have thus far made much progress – from increasing the amount of elevated boilers and standby generators to flood protection – this additional investment will go a long way for NYCHA residents thanks to a strong federal and municipal partnership. I want to thank Senator Schumer for his continued leadership and partnership as we build a stronger, more resilient New York, and to FEMA for these vital funds.”

“The Rockaways project marks the first of 33 major public housing recovery-and-resiliency projects funded by the historic $3 billion FEMA grant we worked so hard to secure when we passed the Sandy Relief Bill in Congress,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

“The groundbreaking at the Rockaways Ocean Bay-Oceanside NYCHA development is terrific news for the hundreds of families who can now rest assured they will soon be better protected in the event of a future storm. This $67 million federal investment means this NYCHA development will have stand-by generators, new electrical systems and other storm mitigation measures in addition to improved security measures to help keep residents safe. I want to thank FEMA for providing NYCHA with the largest grant in U.S. history because it means that some of our most vulnerable residents will be living in a stronger, smarter and more resilient community. Today, I have good news for NYCHA residents across this city who were hammered by Sandy: there’s more help where this came from,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, who noted that similar rebuilding and resiliency efforts were under way in Red Hook, Coney Island, the Lower East Side and East Harlem.

“Working in collaboration with my colleagues of the New York Congressional delegation, I strongly advocated for these funds to support the recovery and improve the resiliency of our housing units,” said Congressman Gregory W. Meeks. “I also welcome this first groundbreaking in my district in Far Rockaways. It is a reflection of the strong case we made for much needed improvements at Ocean Bay-Oceanside. With many adult residents reporting increased asthma rates, and a study that found that asthma prevalence in children in New York City public housing is nearly two times higher than rates among kids living in other types of housing in the city, the health impacts of these repairs are absolutely critical. I will therefore continue to work closely with NYCHA and residents in the community to ensure that these renovations are completed on time and within the required standards.”

“NYCHA is putting FEMA’s historic investment to work. The new construction with resiliency planning will preserve public housing for this and the next generation,” said NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “Through City, State and Federal collaborations, we can build safer, cleaner and more connected communities across New York City.” 

Ocean Bay-Oceanside, a New York City Housing development which is home to more than 400 families, was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. The $67 million in recovery and resiliency work underway includes a full roof replacement, stand-by generators for back-up power, new electrical systems and flood-protected equipment annexes, resiliency measures to prevent flooding, upgraded playgrounds and recreational areas and new lighting, security cameras (CCTV) and state-of-the-art security doors (Layered Access Control). Renderings and a project description can be viewed here.

NYCHA’s recovery efforts (Recovery to Resiliency) are complemented by extensive coastal protection and other resiliency measures in place and underway around the city – key elements of Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC $20 billion multi-layered resiliency program, made possible by the strong degree of cooperation and interagency coordination at all levels of government.

Last year, after three years of negotiations and strong support from U.S. Senator Schumer, New York’s Congressional Delegation and the de Blasio administration, FEMA reached an agreement with NYCHA to provide $3 billion in Sandy recovery assistance. The Rockaways project marks the first of 33 major public housing recovery and resiliency projects funded by the historic $3 billion FEMA grant to move forward into construction.

Using the best available science, innovative design and cutting-edge technology, NYCHA is building back stronger than ever, transforming its developments into resilient sites that can effectively withstand future weather challenges by repairing and replacing vital infrastructure, flood-proofing to protect against the impacts of climate change, like rising sea-levels, and installing stand-by back-up power generators.

To date, more than $396 million in other federal disaster assistance and insurance payments have funded pre-construction work, such as boiler demolition, asbestos abatement and other site preparation and rebuilding, such as renovations of first-floor apartments damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The $3 billion in FEMA funding flows through the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), which will review and approve disbursements to NYCHA. Currently, NYCHA has put project contracts out to bid for FEMA-funded work at Coney Island Site 1B, Coney Island Sites 4/5, Astoria Houses, Smith Houses, Coney Island Site 1B, Carleton Manor, and Rangel Houses.

A priority of NYCHA’s reconstruction and resiliency centers is resident communications and engagement, including providing job-training and connections to career opportunities. More than 110 New York City public housing residents have been employed through Section 3 on Sandy-related contracts at NYCHA developments. Section 3 is a federal mandate that requires employment and other economic opportunities generated by federal assistance to public housing authorities to be directed, whenever possible, to public housing residents and other low- and very-low-income residents. In the Rockaways, there have been more than 60 Section 3 hires – of which 42 are NYCHA residents. At the Ocean Bay-Oceanside site specifically, the contractor has committed to hiring 20 Section 3 employees.

All recovery work underway and planned at each Sandy-impacted development can be viewed and tracked through NYCHA’s Interactive Sandy Transparency Map. Additional information can also be found on NYCHA’s Sandy Recovery webpage.

“NYCHA residents witnessed some of the worst impacts from Hurricane Sandy, and demonstrated the best of New York City in its aftermath,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the Office of the Mayor. “Today's groundbreaking, as part of the largest FEMA grant in history, ensures that NYCHA residents won't have to endure those impacts again as we continue to invest over $20 billion through our OneNYC program to build a stronger, more resilient city.”

"It goes without saying that Hurricane Sandy was one of the worst disasters in our lifetime. As a community, we were not equipped,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr. “This project is so important because it not only helps Ocean Bay-Oceanside rebuild, but it helps us take steps to become more resilient in the face of future storms."

"We were in need of major improvements prior to Sandy. This funding will greatly improve the lives of hundreds of families. I am proud to join with the Mayor and my federal colleagues  to significantly move us forward," said Assembly Member Michele Titus.

"This groundbreaking shows what is possible when the federal government provides resources to NYCHA," said Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the Committee on Public Housing. "The Rockaways were some of the worst hit by Sandy and the residents there have been waiting for this a long time. Finally, they are getting the necessary repairs their developments need. I'm proud to have worked with Council Member Treyger and Senator Schumer to secure this historic $3 billion grant that will surely impact thousands of NYCHA residents, and I look forward to other upgrades in developments across the city."

“For many residents of Ocean Bay, today’s groundbreaking has been nearly four years in the making, but now the federal government is putting in the work to ensure that Ocean Bay will be more secure and resilient for many years to come,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “While the City and the State have been trying to put the pieces back together in a better fashion than before, we always knew that without the help of FEMA, NYCHA could not accomplish its goals. Now, I am proud to stand here with my colleagues from the all levels of government to celebrate this momentous occasion together.”

“I think we’re all excited about this project,” said Oceanside Tenant Association President Jacqueline McMikle. “It makes everyone feel much better that we will be better protected.”


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