City’s Rapid Repairs Program Leaves Sheepshead Residents Waiting

Photo by Erica Sherman

New York City’s Rapid Repairs program, launched to help rebuild homes thrashed by Superstorm Sandy, has been abandoning local Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach residents, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

As we’ve previously reported, NYC’s Rapid Repairs program – launched by Bloomberg’s office two weeks after Sandy steamrolled the city – has been a confusing and ineffective initiative, baffling residents with its complex registration process.

Those patient enough to sort through the red tape were visited by contractors who performed estimates and began preliminary repairs. The problem for many Sheepshead residents is that those repairmen have yet to come back to finish what they’ve started.

“All I have is a house with no walls,” said Sheepshead Bay bungalow owner Cindy Fuchs, 40, choking back tears outside her moldy, dark Mesereau Court home that’s still without power and a working boiler.
Fuchs hasn’t heard from NYC Rapid Repairs since a group of men knocked down her fungus-covered walls last month.
“I don’t know what to do. I am just waiting,” said Fuchs, a middle school teacher’s aide, who asked Occupy Sandy volunteers to finish the job.

Fuchs isn’t alone in her frustration as many residents have been left in the cold by the Rapid Repairs crew.

“They said they needed to get a part – and then they never showed,” said Sheepshead Bay grandmother Diane Bisset, 72, draped in a green bathrobe inside her cold Batchelder Street home.
Rapid Repairs installed a new $2,100 heater that hasn’t stayed warm since it went in two weeks ago, Bisset said. “I know there are a lot of people and so little time, but this is ridiculous.”
Her grandaughter Erica Zito, 24, teamed up with other volunteers cleaning out houses visited by Rapid Repair workers who haven’t completed the jobs.
“You have to wait too long. We can’t wait that long,” Zito said.

The Rapid Repairs crews, divided into groups of electricians,  plumbers and demo men, all have different schedules and have failed to communicate with each other regarding what’s needed for certain houses. The lack of communication extends to the residents as well, with many complaining that, once visited, they never hear back.

Peter Spencer, spokesman for the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, told the Daily News that a greater effort is needed.

“We are ramping up our efforts constantly to get to all of these homes as soon as possible.” According to Spencer, of the 4,200 Brooklyn homes that have registered for help, 1,000 are finished or are on track for repair.


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