Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Housing’ Category

Interview with Respond and Rebuild volunteer

"We started going door to door and kind of collecting as many volunteers as we could, especially who seemed like maybe they maybe had a little know-how with construction or something that would make them feel a little more at home and not completely a fish out of water in a disaster zone, and started talking to homeowners about what they needed to do to clean up and why for health reasons and for the integrity of their building and things like that."

Read more

Interview with new resident of the Rockaways

"If you were someone who rented, or someone didn't have, who didn't work, or didn't have much, you were actually cared for, but if you actually did work, and you did, you know, have insurance, it seemed like things were, didn't necessarily work in your favor. So it's almost like, it really, it almost didn't pay to be a hard working person....because we were working, we actually lost assistance because we had flood insurance, we had homeowner's insurance, we worked, and it was because of all that, it seemed like we were limited to any assistance we could get."

Read more

Interview with mold remediation volunteer

"A lot of the homes were really like disaster zones and there was no one doing any kind of site safety checks and so the first thing we tried to do was go into homes before random volunteers went into them so that we could just make sure there were no oil spills, there was no natural gas fumes, there were no serious hazards beyond what you would normally see with water damage and just kind of build a relationship with the homeowner so that they weren’t in a situation where somebody came in and did half the job but then the volunteers weren’t coming back the next day and so leaving them hanging – like there was a system and we very quickly started keeping track of who we were working for, what they needed, what the sites were like, if there were any hazards, if the stairs were broken, you know. And then we noticed that nobody knew what to do about mold. We knew that mold was going to grow. We knew that we couldn’t use bleach to get rid of it. We knew people who had done that kind of work after Katrina and we knew what needed to happen. And so, that became our focus right away just because that’s actually a really serious public health issue and, you know, can really degrade the structural integrity of a home."

Read more

Interview with resident of Far Rockaway

"Just walking and seeing everybody in the same situation. Everybody had backpacks on like big, big backpacks, big jackets, everyone was doing what they could but, I mean, the sad part it's -- I think it was six hours walking, the sad part was just how exhausted everyone was. And it wasn't like a desperate exhaustion, it was just like, uh, so much shit to do. But the positive -- everyone came together, man. Rockaway is a resilient old place... It was like all right, let's go do so and so's basement and then everyone go there, get that basement done. And the next day, all right, what are we doing tomorrow? All right, we'll do so and so's basement. It was everyone trying to do what they can for everyone."

Read more

Interview with Respond and Rebuild volunteer

"We want to work with the same homeowners through the whole process as far as we can go. And right now, it takes us as far as pumping a basement, mucking it out, which is removal of furniture and soggy personal items, gutting demolition, which is removal of building components, and then mold removal, which is scrubbing out mold. And we are rebuilding in some cases. But we really don't have the funds or the capacity to do that right now. And going over our numbers, we have worked with the same homeowners through a lot of these jobs. We formed pretty good relationships with these homeowners. One thing I've noticed is people get kind of sick of all these different people coming through and, you know, taking data, then they never hear anything back from them. We all just wanted to avoid that because it's annoying."

Read more

Interview with resident of Coney Island

"Well I’m not particularly close to anyone in my building even though I’ve been here 12 years there’s one woman who lives across from me who I consider like a mother. I look out for her but when the storm happened we started looking out for each other. We were like what do you need, you need water, you need this, whatever we had somebody could have. I was giving people money, I saw people who lived on the first floor, if I had an extra $5 or $10 I’d give it to them, they needed something to eat I would give it to them because I had money so I didn’t mind."

Read more

Interview with resident of Coxsackie, New York

"You know, to be subjected to silly questions, how high was the water, you know, has do you have flood insurance, knowing full well that's it a not flood area. No one has flood insurance. To me those things are ridiculous and it makes you feel helpless because A, this is the government that you're paying money into, and it's not free, you know. I'm a happy payer. I'm paying into this. I paid, you know, federal taxes, state taxes, city taxes, yada yada yada, and when it's time for me to actually get aid, well, the government I have to answer 20 million questions, you know, I've done something as if the storm is my fault."

Read more

Interview with Occupy Sandy volunteer

" It felt really kind of there was this huge potential for change that I hadn’t felt since Occupy Wall Street so it was exciting as much as it was overwhelming and really sad and difficult. It was just like this could be our moment to really change the dialogue in New York around issues of climate justice and affordable housing and public housing and all of these different things that I’ve been thinking about and my friends have been thinking about for years but now it’s like on everyone’s mind how inadequate NYCHA is, how inadequate our utilities are, all these things. So it was a big moment in that way also."

Read more

Interview with Cecil Scheib, Managing Director for the NYC Building Resiliency Task Force

"Well there’s several levels of building resilience. So one thing that our current code handles very comprehensively is that a building be resilient enough that after an event, people can get out of it safely. They can safely evacuate. So generally that’s defined as 90 minutes, maybe two hours. What makes the resiliency effort different for New York City is that we’re trying to lengthen the amount of time that the building could be habitable so that people are not forced to evacuate. And this is important for a couple of reasons. One is people do not like to leave their homes—they’re worried about looting, they’re worried about safety, they don’t have places to go. So they like to stay home. And we saw after Sandy, a lot of people living in unsafe conditions because they did not want to leave. Second, the city only has limited capability to actually shelter people—you know, at shelters—and so the more people you can keep in a building, you know, the easier it is for the city to handle the people that really don’t have any option. So one level is just the emergency egress and just getting out safely. Another level might be what we call survivability."

Read more

Interview with Alyssa Durnien, full time volunteer and affected resident, New Jersey

"When I first started, I thought it was going to be a couple of weeks. Now it's more feeling it's going to be over a year at least. I'd like to see people getting back into their houses feeling more comfortable coming and getting the services that we're offering. But the numbers are increasing, not decreasing. And that's kind of eye opening...we are not back to normal and everyone thinks we are. They think that the storm is past and the damage should be over. And there's houses in this community that haven't even been touched yet. And there's, you know, people just starting the cleaning process. And it's six months later, so now they're tackling mold and mildew and a lot of other issues that we didn't think existed prior."

Read more

Interview with two Occupy Sandy New Jersey organizers

"One of the things we've been starting to explore is helping to develop worker cooperatives because there are so many unemployed people with skills ... I'm really excited about the opportunity to give- to create jobs for people, to create a livelihood that doesn't involve the existing system and doesn't involve people being exploited by people, people making opportunities for themselves."

Read more

Interview with Lisa Cowan, Board President of the Red Hook Initiative

"So they went in, they opened the doors, people immediately came in to start charging their phones and figure out what was going on, and both people who were living in the neighborhood and in the houses came in, and then volunteers, who were I think literally biking around the neighborhood looking for a place to help, found our doors being open, and so pretty quickly people started cooking, dropping off supplies, different kinds of providers showed up, and because we had this physical space, and because we had a staff that was local, and because we had a social media presence, we were pretty quickly at the—at the center of a lot of different supply and demand."

Read more