The state Department of Labor is looking to fill more than 5,000 jobs through Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, to mainly get young New Yorkers living in areas impacted by the storm to help clean their own neighborhoods.
On Sunday afternoon, State Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera joined state lawmakers to formally announce the program at Coffey Park in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, which was greatly damaged by Sandy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the jobs, which will last up to six months, are provided through $27.7 million in federal disaster assistance funds. Applicants must be currently unemployed.
The workers will take part in short- and long-term projects to clean and repair damaged public property in Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester Counties. Hourly wages will be around $15 and determined by the applicants' skill sets.
"We need your help. You know your communities, you know what work needs to be done and how to get it done," said federal coordinating official Michael Byrne.
Authorities are publicizing the initiative through social media sites like Facebook, to mostly target people between the ages of 18 to 24, but unemployed older adults are also encouraged to apply.
"We estimate that 200,000 New Yorkers residents became unemployed. So far, 50,000 New Yorkers have filed storm-related unemployment claims," said Rivera.
The commissioner later discussed Red Hook with NY1, saying, "When you look at communities like this, it's that age bracket [18 to 24] that has the highest unemployment. So we're doing a two-fer here. We're trying to tackle the unemployment problem in an area like this, where the unemployment rate for that age group can run as high as 36, 40 percent."
Red Hook residents immediately applied for the jobs after the officials finished their announcement. One applicant, Taina Coella, said she was about to start a job at a restaurant when Sandy hit.
"It flooded, the electricity, the basement, the boiler," Coella said. "It just shut down."
Another Red Hook resident, Desmond Hill, said the storm affected cut his job short at Coney Island.
"I worked in Coney Island, actually, for the amusement area and Sandy hit during our last day of the season," Hill said. "So we canceled the day so we could shut the rides down and try to get everything back together."
Applicants young and old not just wanted a little extra money, but also wanted to help rebuild their homes and community.
"If they knock this down, we've got to get back up and rebuild it, make it better than what it was before," said an applicant.
By Monday morning, more than 800 people had signed up for the program, according to the governor's office.
The workers will be contacted within a week so they can get started.
For more information on the program, call 1-888-4-NYSDOL (1-888-469-7365) or visit labor.ny.gov/sandyjobs.
Applicants can also visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Recovery Centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens.
The Department of Labor also says that FEMA wants to hire up to 700 New Yorkers to fill in full-time, temporary jobs mostly filled by out-of-state FEMA employees. For more information, visit www.labor.ny.gov/jobs/regional.shtm.
Recovering Small Business Owners Apply For City Grants
The state Department of Labor's announcement came a day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced a new grant program aimed at helping small businesses affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The program will make $5.5 million in matching funds available -- $5 million from the Mayor’s Fund and $500,000 from the Partnership for New York City.
Many small businesses were forced to close for days after the storm because they were damaged or had no power. Some owners said they have struggled to get aid in its aftermath.
The mayor said the small businesses are critical to the economy, and the city will stand by them.
The city says it has also authorized $1.2 billion for repair work as a result of Sandy, including $500 million of those expenses will go towards the city's Rapid Repairs Program.
The Rapid Repairs program is designed to help restore power, hot water and heat at homes impacted by Sandy.
Another $500 million will be used to restore public school and hospital buildings.
Meanwhile, many people displaced by Sandy have been receiving temporary shelter, but they will soon have to find somewhere else to stay.
With the city's shelters now closed, FEMA has been paying for temporary hotel rooms for New Yorkers with nowhere else to go.
But the agency is only covering costs until December 1.
On Wednesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg acknowledged the struggle of those still looking for housing but said the situation isn't as dire as it seems.
He estimates only a few thousand residents will actually need help finding long-term housing.
He said the city's Rapid Repairs program will be able to help most people.
"If you take a look at the number of people staying in hotels, if we can get these buildings back up with heat and electricity than you don't have to find other housing for them," Bloomberg said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the housing situation is worse statewide where tens of thousands of homes will have to be rebuilt.
Residents can register for FEMA assistance at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
Con Ed Does Not Issue Storm-Related Credits In November Bills
Meanwhile, Consolidated Edison customers who lost power for days or even weeks because of Hurricane Sandy will not see a smaller bill this month.
About 1.5 million customers will receive a bill with an estimated total based on last year's usage for the same time period.
The utility says it was unable to read meters in the aftermath of the storm because workers were reassigned to help in the restoration effort.
Con Ed says adjustments will be made and those changes will be reflected in next month's bill.
It has also applied to the state Public Service Commission to give Manhattan customers a $3 credit and customers outside the borough a $6 credit, on top of any adjustments.
FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers
- 12th Judicial District, 851 Grand Concourse Bronx, NY 10451. Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mon-Fri
- IKEA, 1 Beard Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Holy Family R.C. Church, 9719 Flatlands Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11236. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Coffey Park, 85 Richards Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Gerritsen Little League Field, 2671 Gerritsen Avenue, Gerritsen Beach, NY. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Social Security Building, Gravesend, 10 Bouck Court, Brooklyn, NY 11223. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Duane Reade (Waldbaums Supermarket parking lot), 115-12 Beach Channel Drive, Far Rockaway, NY 11694. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Community Church of the Nazarene, 1414 Central Avenue, Far Rockaway, NY 11691. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Fort Tilden Park (Building 415), 1-199 Rockaway Point Boulevard, Breezy Point, NY 11697. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- American Legion, 209 Cross Bay Boulevard, Broad Channel, NY 11693. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Storefront, 1001 Beach 20th Street, Far Rockaway, NY 11691. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Miller Field, 600 New Dorp Lane, Staten Island, NY 10306. Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Corner of Father Capodanno Boulevard and Hunter Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10305. Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Mount Loretto CYO, 6581 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10309. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Mount Manresa Jesuit House, 239 Fingerboard Road, Staten Island, NY 10305. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island, NY 10301. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun
- Kia in Staten Island, 1976 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island, NY 10306. Hours: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mon-Sun