In this week’s Observer we go inside City Hall’s quiet program to create a new disaster housing model to house New Yorkers displaced by the next superstorm or some other unforeseen catastrophe. Because of New York’s dense urban environment, any disaster housing would have to be big, in order to accommodate lots of residents, but also compact, since there is not much room to build these things.
The city has so far hit upon the novel idea of using shipping containers to house the displaced, stacking prefabricated modules one on top of another. It is an innovative model the likes of which are untested worldwide, but already one company has built a prototype in South Jersey, and the city is prepared to test out some version of it as early as next year. So please, step inside what could be your apartment for a year or two after the next big one hits.
If another Sandy hits a year or three from now, few New Yorkers should have to call tent cities and high school gymnasiums home.
Instead, they will be living inside shipping containers.
For the past five years, the Bloomberg administration has been quietly developing a first-of-its-kind disaster housing program, creating modular apartments uniquely designed for the challenges of urban living. Carved out of shipping containers, these LEGO-like, stackable apartments offer all the amenities of home. Or more, since they are bigger, and brighter, than the typical Manhattan studio. It’s the FEMA trailer of the future, built with the Dwell reader in mind.
“It’s nicer than my apartment,” David Burney, commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, said in a phone interview last week.
While some employees may have off for today’s Veteran’s Day holiday, others have become veterans of the post-Sandy recovery effort.
Along with the traditional New York City school closings, several of the City’s offices were closed on Monday, such as the Department of City Planning and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, as might be expected on a federal holiday. But for offices dealing with the ongoing recovery effort from Hurricane Sandy, the holiday was just another day of trying to restore power, heat, and hot water to those still without it, another day to clean up and safeguard New Yorkers ravaged by the storm.
The Office of Emergency Management has been functioning nonstop since before Sandy made landfall two weeks ago, and that goes for today, too. “It’s 24 hour shifts around the clock no matter what day it is,” OEM spokeswoman Nancy Greco said. The New York City Housing Authority said in a statement that recovery efforts “are moving forward without regard to the holiday. NYCHA has maintained sufficient frontline staff and contractors to continue recovery efforts without interruption.”
Based on coverage of the hurricane hearing yesterday, it looks like nursing home residents are in bad shape, but there is some hope for pets.
Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, the Westchester Democrat who called the hearing, is still unsatisfied that some documents he subpoenaed haven’t been turned over, according to an aide, Read More