Sandy Recovery is Far From Complete

A recent report claimed that many public housing projects affected by Hurricane Sandy continued to suffer from mold conditions, leaks and intermittent heat and hot water more than a year after the storm. NYCHA officials conceded that, while some of these conditions may be of more recent origin, they are real problems. Similarly, many private sector multi-family properties, which did not have sufficient private resources to effect repairs, are still waiting for government funds to complete repairs. For example, the City announced a proposal to allocate Community Development Block Grant funds for yet another set of multi-family buildings which suffered unrepaired storm damage located in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Of course, New Jersey is also experienced a wide range of difficulties in its continued efforts to repair storm damage in shore communities.

Higher Flood-Zone Rebuilding Is Allowed

An emergency executive order signed Thursday by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg allows property owners with buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy in newly designated federal flood zones to rebuild higher without violating existing building codes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency released updated flood maps this week that showed more parts of coastal New York are vulnerable to severe flooding. The agency included recommended minimal elevations that buildings should now meet in order to minimize damage.

The city also said that new buildings or buildings with significant damage in high-risk areas must be built at least one foot higher than the building code’s current flood elevation, as an extra safety buffer. Such measures, the city said, could ward off future damage and possibly ease anticipated increases in flood insurance.

 

Source: New York Times

Water Bill Issues Related to Hurricane Sandy

At a meeting of the New York City Water Board, Board members mentioned that they received complaints from customers related to their water bills and Hurricane Sandy.

The Board is encouraging customers who have billing concerns related to Hurricane Sandy to contact the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Customer Service office.  If building or plumbing was flooded or damaged by Hurricane Sandy, property owners may request a review of their bill.  Customers can contact DEP by phone at (718) 595-7000 or at a special email address HurricaneBillingReviews@dep.nyc.gov for water bill review.  If a property owner’s building has been left uninhabitable by Hurricane Sandy and the water connection is leaking, potentially causing an emergency situation with flooding and more damage, they should email waterserviceshutoff@dep.nyc.gov to request to have the water service for your property turned off.

$40 Million in Low-Cost Loans Available for Multi-Family Buildings for Storm Recovery

This month, the City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) and Housing Development Corporation (HDC), together with Citi Community Capital, launched a Storm Recovery Loan Fund, a pilot program to provide up to $40 million in low-cost loans to fund the repair of multi-family buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

According to the City’s press release, building owners can put the funds toward resiliency measures, like installing state-of-the-art heating and electric plants that are repositioned to withstand the next storm by being located on higher floors and/or in waterproof compartments. This focus on mitigation will decrease the cost of recovery and reduce the destructive impact of future storms. In addition, the program aim is to promote green improvements that will conserve energy and save multi-family homeowners money. The new fund blends a subsidy from HPD with CPC financing to provide loans that are below market rate, allowing owners to make needed repairs in the aftermath of Sandy.

“It is critical that owners of multi-family buildings have the resources available to get back up and running as quickly as possible,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua. “The Storm Recovery Loan Fund uses City resources to leverage private dollars at below market rates. We are grateful for the commitment our partners have shown in helping fellow New Yorkers rebuild after Sandy.”

HDC will provide a 10 percent first loss credit enhancement on construction loans financed through the program. In this pilot phase, the majority of applications for the Storm Recovery Loan Fund will be primarily for buildings between 5 and 45 units, although larger buildings will be considered. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and funding is available both to repair storm damage and to mitigate the potential impact of future storms.

 

Both for-profit and not-for-profit owners of multifamily buildings in the City are eligible to apply for the Storm Recovery Loan Fund. Loan proceeds may be used for repair work ranging from systems replacement and storm mitigation retrofits to gut rehab, where necessary. Storm Recovery Loans may have up to a 30-year term. CPC’s portion of the loan will have a rate of approximately 4.5%, and HPD’s funds have an interest rate of 1%, for a blended rate below other conventional financing.

All projects must comply with HPD standard specifications and substantial rehab projects must achieve Enterprise Green Communities Certification. In keeping with the City’s Greener Greater Buildings Plan, all of the properties financed under this program will be benchmarked for energy usage and retrofit for energy savings will be included in their scopes of work. All buildings burning number 6 oil will be converted to comply with the City’s Clean Heat initiative. In addition, gut rehabilitation projects must meet HPD’s construction specifications and design guidelines.

Building owners who are interested in applying for the program should call 718-601-6600 (for buildings in Manhattan/Bronx) or 718-210-1702 (for buildings in Brooklyn/Queens/Staten Island).

The terms of the program can be found by clicking here.

 

DEP Extends Temporary Waiver of Fuel Oil Sulfur Limit to Ensure Heating Oil Deliveries in NYC

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) extended a temporary waiver of the 0.15 percent sulfur limit for fuel oil grade no. 4 set forth in Section 24-169(b)(2) of the New York City Administrative Code. As a result of supply disruptions and infrastructure damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, fuel oil producers and distributors continue to encounter difficulties in obtaining and distributing sufficient quantities of low sulfur no. 2 fuel oil, which is blended with no. 6 fuel oil to produce no. 4 fuel oil. To ensure New Yorkers have enough fuel to heat homes and businesses, New York State issued an executive order on December 21, 2012 extending a temporary suspension of low sulfur requirements relating to no. 2 fuel oil sold in New York City until January 18, 2013. Today, DEP also extended a waiver of the 0.15 percent sulfur limit on no. 4 fuel oil until January 18, 2013.

In addition, DEP has introduced new, streamlined emergency boiler work permit guidelines to aid building owners recovering from Hurricane Sandy. The new guidelines allow temporary work permits to repair or replace damaged boilers to be issued by providing DEP with basic information about the work being completed, type of boiler being installed, and information about the licensed installer or plumber. The new emergency boiler work permit guidelines will allow work to begin immediately and cut the application process by as much as two weeks.

 

Source: DEP