The city will open seven "Restoration Centers" to help New Yorkers recover from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy. At a press conference in Far Rockaway today, Mayor Bloomberg announced the program, which is intended to "create accessible neighborhood offices located in the communities that were hit the hardest" and to "provide long-term assistance to New Yorkers." That promise for long-term assistance is important to note, because based on the devastation we've seen, a sustained level of commitment will be of paramount importance. According to the Mayor's Office, NYC Restore is...:
...a comprehensive effort to connect residents and businesses impacted by Hurricane Sandy with financial, health, environmental, nutritional and residential services, as well as Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) reimbursement processing. The centers located in Far Rockaway, Gravesend, Coney Island and Staten Island open today, while the Centers in Red Hook, Breezy Point and Throggs Neck-Pelham Bay will open later in the week.
The Restoration Centers bring together information and referral to all of the City government services available in the aftermath of the storm. FEMA staff is onsite to perform benefits intake, as well as provide ongoing management and updates of applicants’ FEMA cases.
The centers will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., as part of an attempt to make them more accessible to Sandy victims with jobs. Each one will provide assistance in a variety of different categories: Temporary Housing Information, Health and Medical Benefits, NYC Rapid Repairs, Food and Nutrition Assistance, Business Restoration, Counseling Services, Financial Assistance, Personal Records and Information.
"We are taking our ongoing relief efforts an important step further by setting up one-stop city offices that make it simpler and more convenient for New Yorkers get the help they need,” Mayor Bloomberg said today. “The Restoration Centers will be an invaluable resource for the New Yorkers most impacted by the storm - and for the communities hit hardest." The announcement comes a day after the mayor signed an emergency order to waive all Department of Buildings application and permit fees for repair work to buildings damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The Mayor's announcement also includes a long list of "non-profit community-based organizations" that the city is partnering with, such as Good Shepherd Services, Red Hook Initiative, and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty. Conspicuously absent from the list of partners is Occupy Sandy, which was at the vanguard of the relief effort and continues to fill gaps that have been left by the city and federal initiatives. The Mayor's office is certainly aware of Occupy Sandy, as a representative recently joined an organizational meeting for the movement's continued efforts to help powerless Red Hook residents.