Buildings Damaged by the Storm and Unable to Provide Essential Services Can Sign Up for NYC Rapid Repairs
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua announced today that owners and landlords of multi-family residential buildings impacted by Hurricane Sandy must take action to make the necessary repairs to provide electricity, heat and hot water to their tenants. Building owners who need assistance can sign up for the NYC Rapid Repairs program so that the damage can be quickly assessed and repairs can be made to have these essential services restored. As temperatures continue to drop, endangering the health and safety of the tenants in storm damaged buildings, these essential services must be restored as quickly as possible. In affected areas, roughly 95 percent of buildings that are more than six stories have had their critical utility services fully restored. For mid-sized buildings with multiple units that are below six stories, nearly 70 percent have had their electricity and heat restored. Owners who fail to promptly correct hazardous conditions themselves or do not sign up with NYC Rapid Repairs to restore essential services to their buildings will be subject to the commencement of enforcement proceedings. The Mayor made the announcement at City Hall and was also joined by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Linda Gibbs, Department of Homeless Services Seth Diamond and Director of Housing Recovery Operations Brad Gair.
“Landlords must take action to improve building conditions for their tenants – it’s their legal obligation,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The City, though our Rapid Repairs program, has the resources to help make the fixes needed to restore essential services. Landlords must put these resources to work now, as the weather gets colder and health risks increase.”
“Since the storm hit, homeowners and landlords across the City have been working tirelessly to get New Yorkers back into their homes with power, heat and hot water – but with the onset of cold weather Mayor Bloomberg and our Administration will ensure that all landlords meet their obligations to their tenants as soon as possible,” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel said. “The work of recovery from the storm won't be complete until every New Yorker displaced by the storm is back in a home with all services restored.”
“It’s an owner’s legal obligation to provide their tenants with essential services such as electricity and heat,” said of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Wambua. “We realize that many people, owners included, have suffered hardships because of Hurricane Sandy. However, with the days getting colder it is imperative that these critical services are restored. If owners need assistance, the City’s Rapid Repair program is there to help make assessments and get the work done quickly.”
“As the weather gets colder, we cannot stress enough the importance of making sure those who are living in homes or apartments without heat get to a warmer place,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. “Prolonged exposure to cold is not just uncomfortable, it is dangerous, especially for infants, the elderly, and people with chronic diseases.”
Multi-family residential property owners in New York City are required to provide all essential services and maintain their buildings in habitable conditions that protect the life, health and safety of their tenants. Building owners have two options:
- Owners and landlords may correct the conditions themselves and submit a timely certification to HPD.
- Owners and landlords may sign up for the NYC Rapid Repairs program by calling 311, going to NYC.gov or visiting one of the City’s Restoration Centers.
Owners who fail to promptly correct these hazardous conditions themselves or do not sign up with NYC Rapid Repairs to restore essential services to their buildings will be subject to the commencement of enforcement proceedings.
Prolonged exposure to cold increases health risks from a variety of causes, including:
- Hypothermia, or dangerously low body temperature
- Worsening of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions
- Exposure to carbon monoxide, respiratory irritants, and fire risks among those using stoves for heat, generators for electricity, or candles for light
Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition. It occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Hypothermia can happen gradually and without the person realizing how serious it is. The symptoms of hypothermia include: uncontrollable shivering, weakness, confusion, and lack of coordination. In infants, signs of hypothermia may include: cold, bright red skin, or very low energy.
Mayor Bloomberg launched NYC Rapid Repairs earlier this month to streamline the process for restoring power, heat and hot water to damaged homes. Under the typical process, homeowners are responsible for arranging repair work, and applying for federal reimbursement. Through NYC Rapid Repairs and in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the City coordinates assessments and repair work so that they happen more quickly and efficiently. The City also covers the construction costs. Homeowners can enroll in NYC Rapid Repairs by visiting NYC.gov or calling 311. A FEMA ID number is required and can be provided through DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. The Rapid Repairs teams will work closely with City agencies, including the Department of Buildings and Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to make sure that any necessary inspections and certifications are done as quickly as possible.
The 2012/2013 “heat season” started on October 1, 2012 and continues through May 31, 2013. During heat season, residential building owners with tenants are required by law to maintain an indoor temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6:00 A.M. and 10:00 P.M. when the outdoor temperature falls below 55 degrees. Between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M., building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees. Hot water is required to be maintained at 120 degrees year-round.