2013-06-19 / Features

Bloomberg Vows To Strengthen City’s Infrastructure

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

The Building Resiliency Task Force, an expert panel convened after Hurricane Sandy to propose steps needed to fortify New York’s buildings and strengthen the city’s building standards released its recommendations last week.

The June 13 announcement by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn came at the CityLights Building in Long Island City, a building that was flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy but has since made improvements to protect the building and ensure back-up power in the future.

“We have to be able to withstand and recover quickly from all hazards posed by climate change,” said Bloomberg in a press release. “[The Task Force recommendations] cover important ways to make every kind of building in the city safer from future storms.”

On January 29, President Barack Obama signed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act into law providing $16 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. On May 10 the first round of CDBG-DR funding in the amount of $1.7 billion was approved for the city to use, and in June Bloomberg announced the opening of registration for the city’s Build it Back program to assist homeowners, landlords and tenants in the five boroughs whose homes and properties were damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

“We’re trying to get the money out the door,” said Sara Dabbs, deputy director of the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) at the June 13 meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet.

“Our plan for storm resiliency is to prevent damage to boilers in a future storm,” said Dabbs, adding that, “If a property was substantially damaged, i.e. more than 50 percent, you are required to raze it.”

HPD and the Community Development Corporation are providing loans to rehabilitate storm damaged multifamily housing (five or more units) but said help is available for small buildings (one to four units) as well.

Beginning in July, the city will schedule an in-person appointment between applicants to the Build it Back program with a housing recovery specialist. If the application is approved, there are options to repair, rebuild, receive reimbursement or for acquisition. You can apply online at www.nyc.gov or by calling 311 and asking for NYC Build it Back.

Based on new maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on June 12, the city issued new warnings and estimates that more than 800,000 city residents will live in the 100- year flood plain by the 2050s, more than double the current 398,000 estimate.

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