When Habitat for Humanity finished fixing up a Coney Island woman’s Sandy-damaged home on Oct. 29, it marked the group’s 100th project in the city since the superstorm devastated the city exactly two years ago.
The Neptune Avenue homeowner said the project was like divine intervention.
“Habitat for Humanity has been a Godsend,” said homeowner Margurie Batts. “The dedication of the staff and volunteers that come out rain or shine to help those of us still living with the destruction from Sandy has been truly remarkable.”
Batts is a retired postal worker who bought her home in 1976 and rented out the ground-floor apartment to help make ends meet. But Sandy’s storm surge inundated her first floor, so for the past two years she has had to live without that vital income, she said.
Over the last 60 days, Habitat volunteers renovated the apartment — removing shoddy post-storm work, installing new sheetrock and floors, fixing the electrical system and plumbing, and landscaping the rear yard, according Habitat real estate director Mike Gilliard.
The superstorm’s anniversary marks a new partnership between the city’s Build It Back Sandy recovery program and non-profit and community groups.
Program applicants can now use federal aid to hire groups like Habitat for Humanity to fix or rebuild their homes — something previously forbidden under the program. The new measure is the latest in a suite of program changes Mayor DeBlasio has instituted since taking office in January.
So far this year, Build It Back contractors have started work on nearly 200 Brooklyn homes, with 36 projects already complete, according to city data.
The partnership with community groups will further expand the program’s ability to help storm victims, the local councilman said.
“As we move forward, non-profit groups like Habitat for Humanity NYC will be crucial to ensuring that every New Yorker returns home again and that every impacted community is made whole again,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island), who chairs the Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency — and who also helped put the finishing touches on Butts’ house on Oct. 29.
Work on Batts’ home started two months ago and was funded through private donations, Gilliard said.
Since Sandy, more than Habitat for Humanity 3,000 volunteers and 10 Americorps staff cleaned out 61 damaged homes, rebuilt 33, and started construction on another six in the two years following the storm, Gilliard said.