Nov. 16, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
When Superstorm Sandy hit the City four years ago, more than 750 NYCHA buildings were damaged.
Eight buildings at the Astoria Houses are still in need of repair stemming from Sandy and they are now—years later—in the process of being fixed and improved. The funding for the repairs is coming from a $3 billion FEMA grant that was specifically for Sandy relief.
Construction work on the eight buildings—which face the East River– will likely be completed in 2018, according to an NYCHA representative who spoke at the Community Board 1 meeting last night.
One of the biggest upgrades being made to the Astoria Houses is installing backup generators on the rooftops of the buildings and adding new electrical rooms above flood level to protect them from flooding, which was a big problem during Sandy.
“In the event of another storm, residents will have electricity not only in the hallways, not only around the site, but in their apartments,” explained the NYCHA representative.
A portion of the grant will also fund full roof replacements of the eight buildings, restoration of damaged architecture, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems, dry proofing the building, and adding CCTV cameras and new security systems.
As part of the renovations, NYCHA is also working to include as many residents of Astoria Houses on the construction team as possible. However rather than simply hiring them for the one project, it has started a union apprenticeship program, in the hopes of getting the residents enrolled in unions to maintain steady employment beyond the one project.
“It’s not a quick job, it’s a longer process, but we see it as a ladder to the middle class and more impactful way to change lives for the people that we are serving on these projects,” explained another NYCHA representative about the union program.