Bloomberg Appoints Housing Recovery Director, Giving Displaced Residents a Place To Focus Their Frustrations

fema Bloomberg Appoints Housing Recovery Director, Giving Displaced Residents a Place To Focus Their Frustrations

Brad Gair, center, in Indiana in 2005. (FEMA)

It’s been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit, demolishing houses in Staten Island and the waterfront communities of Brooklyn and Queens. Tensions have been running high of late, with residents frustrated by the pace it’s taking to restore power to their neighborhoods—the basic necessity of life on which all other rebuilding efforts rest.

So it should come as some relief to hear that Mayor Bloomberg and the city are looking to life beyond shelters for residents whose homes are beyond easy repair (or any repair at all). Today Mr. Bloomberg announced that he has appointed Brad Gair as the director of Housing Recovery Operations.

With anger and frustration already palpable in these communities (calling Staten Island the forgotten borough has seldom seemed so apropos), Mr. Gair is stepping into the role with challenges far beyond housing thousands of displaced New Yorkers. Although given that he has more than 20 years of emergency management experience in areas hit by natural and man-made disasters (he oversaw the federal government’s recovery efforts in the aftermath of 9/11), he brings ample experience to the task.

“Solving the housing problems created by this storm is an enormous challenge, but we know that the resources exist at a variety of federal, state and local agencies. Brad Gair will help us marshal those resources and coordinate efforts so that we can get help to New Yorkers who need it as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.

As the director of housing recovery operations, Mr. Gair will develop an inventory of transitional and temporary housing options and oversee the relocation of displaced New Yorkers, coordinating with federal, state and local organizations including the New York City Housing Authority, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Housing Development Corporation and the Department of Homeless Services.

FEMA trailers are one of the major options being considered by the federal government at the moment. While relief workers are not yet sure how many people need housing, current estimates put the number somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 families.

The mayor also appointed community recovery directors for each borough: Nazli Parvizi in Brooklyn, Matthew Mahoney in Manhattan, Diahann Billings-Burford in Queens and Haeda Milhaltses in Staten Island.

kvelsey@observer.com