Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 9, 2016


Advancing NYC’s Resiliency Goals, Historic FEMA Grant Funds Roof Replacements, Stand-by Generators for Back-up Power at Impacted Buildings, and Other Improvements, including Security Upgrades, at Astoria Houses, Benefiting More Than 3,100 Residents

Astoria Houses

NEW YORK––Today, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) announced the start of construction on a $88 million reconstruction project at Astoria Houses, funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The resiliency effort at Astoria Houses project is NYCHA’s third major public housing recovery and resiliency project to move forward into construction under last year’s historic $3 billion Sandy recovery assistance provided by FEMA – the largest such grant in FEMA history, secured after three years of negotiations and strong support from New York’s Congressional Delegation and the de Blasio administration.

NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye said, “Thanks to the historic support secured last year from FEMA, NYCHA is moving full steam ahead with major Sandy recovery projects, ensuring a more resilient future for our developments. Working collaboratively with our partners at all levels of government, we are building back stronger than ever before, improving quality of life for residents while protecting public housing from future weather challenges.”

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, “This $88 million construction project will make the Astoria Houses buildings that were affected by Hurricane Sandy more resilient to future storms and help repair damage that's been left. The new generators, electrical systems, security cameras, roof replacements, and flood prevention measures will ensure that residents of these buildings will be able to withstand another major weather event. The improvements to the recreational areas and exterior safety lighting will improve quality-of-life for all families. These upgrades are an integral part of our city's efforts to combat the effects of climate change. I look forward to working with NYCHA and community stakeholders to ensure an on-time project completion and I thank FEMA and our congressional delegation for this much-needed grant.”

Astoria Houses, a New York City Housing development, which is home to more than 3,100 residents, was hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. The $88 million in recovery and resiliency work underway includes comprehensive upgrades to areas and buildings damaged by Superstorm Sandy, including roof replacements, stand-by generators for back-up power, new electrical systems and flood-protected equipment annexes, resiliency measures to prevent flooding, security cameras (CCTV), and state-of-the-art security doors (Layered Access Control); as well as site-wide improvements, including upgraded playgrounds and recreational areas, and comprehensive exterior safety lighting across the development.

Renderings and a project description can be viewed here. The start of major construction work at Astoria Houses follows NYCHA’s recent groundbreakings on the $67-million FEMA-funded recovery project at Ocean Bay–Oceanside in the Rockaways and the $41-million FEMA-funded recovery project at Coney Island Sites 4/5.

Using the best available science, innovative design and cutting-edge technology, NYCHA is building back stronger than ever (Recovery to Resiliency), 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 $410 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 reviews and approves disbursements to NYCHA. Currently, NYCHA has put project contracts out to bid for FEMA-funded work at Coney Island Houses, Coney Island Site 1B, Smith Houses, Carleton Manor, and Rangel Houses.

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’s recovery efforts 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.

Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the Office of the Mayor said, “Today, NYCHA takes yet another critical step in rebuilding safer and more resilient housing for its residents after Hurricane Sandy. This groundbreaking at Astoria Houses represents one more milestone in the implementation of the City’s $20 billion OneNYC resiliency program, which is preparing the city for the impacts of climate change.”

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer said, "The renovations of the Astoria Houses mark another step in the 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. This $88 million federal investment means better living conditions and more security in the face of impending storms for the many families and seniors who call this community home. I want to again 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.”

State Senator Michael Gianaris said, “Residents of our community, especially those living in Astoria Houses, are still suffering from the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. It is important that we rebuild and upgrade to be prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. These installments will benefit our neighborhood and keep residents feeling safe and protected.”

Assembly Member Catherine Nolan said, “I am pleased to see this great investment being made to improve the infrastructure at Astoria Houses" said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. "The residents of Astoria Houses deserve to live in a safe, healthy environment and these repairs and updates are much needed.”

Council Member Ritchie Torres, Chair of the City Council Committee on Public Housing, said, "FEMA's historic grant continues to make an impact on recovery efforts and our City's public housing residents- this time at Astoria Houses. This $88 million recovery project is an investment that will hopefully ensure the development remains protected and resilient for future generations. We look forward to seeing the rest of FEMA's grant put to use for the benefit of NYCHA tenants.”

Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, said, “This work at Astoria Houses is another sign of crucial progress in the effort to forge a more resilient, safer, and advanced NYCHA, particularly in our coastal communities. I am proud that the historic City Council hearing I held with my colleagues, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Ritchie Torres, at a Coney Island NYCHA community center in 2014 spurred the process that resulted in a $3 billion FEMA grant to repair damage done by Superstorm Sandy. NYCHA residents deserve the comfort of knowing their homes can withstand the force of another Sandy, and I look forward to working with NYCHA to ensure that this project moves forward smoothly.”

Resident communications and engagement are priorities in NYCHA’s reconstruction and resiliency efforts, including providing job-training and connections to career opportunities. More than 120 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 Queens, there have been more than 68 Section 3 hires – of which 51 are NYCHA residents. At Astoria Houses specifically, the contractor has committed to hiring 10 Section 3 employees.

Additionally this week, building on that progress, NYCHA released a Request for Proposals for pre-apprenticeship training and placement program providers to connect more NYCHA residents to promising careers in the construction industry by giving residents access to job training and direct entry into skilled trade unions working on Sandy construction projects at NYCHA developments. The programs will be funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.