The Sandy Puzzle: Piecing Together the Rebuilding Resources for Your Home

The Sandy Puzzle: Piecing Together the Rebuilding Resources for Your Home

  • by Architecture for Humanity
  • Aug 01, 2013
  • comments

After a disaster, overwhelming confusion occurs about the rebuilding process and how a community can get back on its feet. Individuals and organizations, such as Architecture for Humanity, come together to assist those living and working within the affected communities with several questions in mind:

    What can I do to help my community recover and build back better?

    What are the ideas, policies, and plans in place that will govern how we rebuild?

    Where can I find financial help to restore my life back to order?

The Sandy Puzzle: Piecing Together the Rebuilding Resources for Your Home, is a brief catalogue of the numerous rebuilding programs and financial services available to single-family homeowners. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but acts as a starting point for answering the complex questions that arise after a disaster event. A myriad of programs are being developed to assist homeowners in defining their needs, assessing their options and referring them to the services they require for rebuilding, repairing or relocating from their home.





    Apply for Assistance
      Find disaster assistance that meets your personal needs, locate over 70 forms of assistance from 17 federal agencies, apply for disaster assistance, and check the progress of your applications. See the application checklist and get disaster assistance
      *Must be have a Social Security Number and be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National or Qualified Alien.

      Neighborhood Housing Services: Emergency Loan Program
      Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City (NHS) has Emergency Loan programs for: (1) Owner occupants of 1-4 family homes; and (2) Owners of 5-20 residential units or mixed-use properties. In general, NHS provides approvals on Emergency loans within 3-5 business days from time of application.
      Call (212)519-2500 to reach Neighborhood Housing Services

      The Parodneck Foundation’s Senior Citizen Homeowner Assistance Program (SCHAP)
      Offers low-cost and forgivable loans for home repairs. Applicants must own and have lived in a one to four unit building for at least two years, be at least 60 years of age and have liability and property insurance. Income restrictions also apply depending on household size.
      For more information, click here or call The Parodneck Foundation at (212) 431-9700 ext. 300

      NYC Build It Back
      A City program to assist homeowners, landlords and tenants in the five boroughs whose primary homes were damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Funded by the Federal Community Development Block Grant. The goal of NYC Build it Back is to help affected residents return to safe, sustainable housing by addressing unmet housing recovery needs.

      Register and learn more here

    Flood Resources

    Mold Resources
    Mold may be present if your home suffered water damage. Mold poses several health and safety risks to building occupants, and is important to remove. In addition to Mold Removal Trainings provided by the City, please use the following resources to learn more.

    Resilient Retrofit and Rebuild

    Building Equipment

      Emergency boiler repair
      The Department of Environmental Protection will issue Emergency boiler work permits. A completed permit application must be filled with the DEP within 30 day of receiving a temporary emergency work permit.

      Home heating oil tank assistance
      Homeowners with home heating oil tanks should be aware that their tanks may have been damaged or at risk of leaking as a result of Sandy and may be eligible for assistance with clean-up from the NY Department of Environmental Conservation
      phone: 718-482-7376

      Insulation and Drywall
      Convoy of Hope has established recovery operations in Freeport, NY, and has insulation and drywall available to organizations and individuals who are working with disaster case management.
      Convoy of Hope is also engaged in debris removal throughout the area.
      Contact: Stacy Lamb, Convoy of Hope
      Phone: (417)230-3964

      Refrigerators, drywall and insulation
      NYSERDA/Honeywell EmPower NY is giving out free refrigerators, drywall and insulation to owners or renters who meet Heap requirements until September 30th.
      Contact: Virginia Walsh

    Other Building Resources

    Apply for Assistance
      Special Mortgage Insurance Program for Disaster Victims
      Homeowners living in the presidentially declared disaster area can get special FHA insurance on a new mortgage to repair or replace homes damaged by the storm. The mortgage insurance makes it easier to obtain a loan from a financial institution. HUD recommends that homeowners work with a HUD-certified housing counselor when applying. For more information on the section 203(h) mortgage insurance, please click here.

      New York Rising Recovery
      Online resource for applying for and managing your disaster recovery award from the State of New York. If you have previously submitted a pre-application for housing or business assistance, a username and temporary password will be emailed to you. If you have not previously submitted a pre-application for assistance, please register here.

      Neighborhood Recovery Fund
      The Neighborhood Recovery Fund (NRF) is an emergency fund created to provide immediate financial assistance to homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy. NRF provides eligible homeowners with up to $5,000 in assistance in the form of a grant or interest-free loan. Visit here for more information.
      Call 311 or 646-786-0888 to be connected with a free housing counselor or legal services provider who will work with you to submit your NRF application and resolve other housing issues. Homeowners may not apply for NRF without the assistance of a qualified counseling or legal services provider. Service providers do not charge fees for their services.
      Fax: 646-349-1578
      Call: 646-786-0897

    Get Counseling and Legal Services

      New York State Disaster Case Management (DCM) Program
      The DCM program is designed to provide a locally based disaster case manager for New Yorkers with unmet needs related to Hurricane Sandy.
      Potential clients should be referred to Disaster Case Management if they have disaster-caused needs not met by the referring organization's program(s). Catholic Charities is subcontracting with locally based not-for-profits to provide direct services through October 2014 in the following counties: Bronx, Kings, Nassau, New York, Orange, Putnam, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester. Learn more here.

      Call 211/311, the Catholic Charities SANDY Helpline (855-258-0483), or directly through DCM Agencies.

      New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS)
      NYDIS is a 501(c)(3) faith-based federation of human services providers and charitable organizations who work in partnership to leverage resources and provide disaster readiness, response and recovery services to the most vulnerable communities affected by disaster in New York City. NYDIS’s principle recovery program is the New York City Unmet Needs Roundtable, which brings together donors and case management agencies to financially assist those impacted by a disaster, provide emergency assistance, and ensure victims' long-term recovery in cases when all other means of assistance are no longer available.
      Phone: (212)669-6100

      The Center For New York City Neighborhoods
      As homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy continue the recovery process, many will struggle to make their mortgage payments due to unanticipated expenditures due to Sandy. The Center for New York City Neighborhoods can connect owners to free housing counseling and legal services.
      Phone: (646)786-0888 or dial 311 and ask for CNYCN

      Brooklyn Jubilee Legal Clinic
      Open to the general public, anyone with legal questions may visit us their trailer parked outside the Coney Island Gospel Assembly at:
      2828 Neptune Avenue, in Brooklyn.
      Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am-3pm, and Thursday 2-7pm.
      You do not need to be a Coney Island resident to meet with an attorney. Only Brooklyn residents with low incomes (80% Area Median Income) are eligible for services.

      Find a Free Legal Assistance Clinic
      Free Legal Assistance Clinics continue around the city. Check this link to find the nearest walk-in clinic for you

      Disaster Legal Services (DLS)
      (800)699-5636, operates M-F, 9-5. Provide name and number of donated legal services.

      Legal Aid Society
      The Legal Aid Society is the nation's oldest and largest provider of legal services to the indigent. Founded in 1876, the Society provides a full range of civil legal services as well as criminal defense work, and juvenile rights representation in Family Court. Core service is to provide free legal assistance to New Yorkers who live at or below the poverty level and cannot afford to hire a lawyer when confronted with a legal problem.
      199 Water Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY
      Disaster relief hotline: (888)663-6880

      Legal Services NYC
      Legal Services NYC has set up a central hotline for any victim of Hurricane Sandy. Advocates work in communities around the City to help people access benefits, obtain safe affordable housing and handle other legal issues to help families and our communities recover. Assistance offered include but are not limited to: FEMA Applications; Emergency Benefits Applications; Employment; Housing; Foreclosure Prevention; Economic Recovery; and Other Civil Legal Services. For detailed information and resources on Hurricane Sandy Recovery, visit here.
      Citywide Sandy Recovery Hotline: (347)592-2411 Open from 10am - 3pm, Monday through Friday

      New York Legal Assistance Group: Legal Aid Disaster Relief Program
      The New York Legal Assistance Group provides high quality, free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers who cannot afford attorneys. Comprehensive range of services include direct representation, case consultation, advocacy, community education, training, financial counseling, and impact litigation.
      7 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004
      Storm Response Legal Hotline: 212-584-3365

    Free Financial Services

      Operation Hope
      Assists individuals with the short, medium and long term economic and financial challenges following a disaster. Free financial services includes, Disaster Recovery Budget, paying mortgages on destroyed home, home inspections and repair contracts, assistance with Creditors, referrals to Government and private agencies, replacement of documentation, insurance claims assistance and recovery seminars and financial case management.
      Phone: (888)388-4673 (HOPE)

      American Red Cross Move In-Assistance Program
      The Red Cross will provide financial assistance to clients moving from transitional to long-term accommodations to support clients in re-establishing a sustainable living environment without duplication of benefits. According to varying needs, this program can cover up to $10,000 in expenses per household, covering expenses such as first month’s rent, security deposits, broker’s fees, and moving costs.

      See here for details and eligibility requirements.

      New York Mortgage Coalition
      Counseling to assist with affordable housing, insurance issues.
      Phone: (212)742-0762

      Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
      (877)358-5306 in NY State, operates 7:30-11
      (877)358-5306 outside NY State, operates 7:30-11

    Other Financial References

      City Property Tax Relief
      On May 29, 2013, the NYC Department of Finance mailed revised Market Values for more than 88,000 properties affected by Hurricane Sandy. The new values for affected properties can be viewed on the Notice of Property Value page or by entering an affected property’s borough, block, and lot here

      Appealing Your Property Value
      If you received a Revised Notice of Property Value due to Sandy and you believe your property value on the notice is too high, you can file an appeal with the New York City Tax Commission. To learn more, contact 311 or visit the Tax Commission’s website.

      New York State Department of Financial Services
      New York State Department of Financial Services has information on private insurance options, how to file a complaint or report fraud and for more Flood Insurance options, contains information on coverage for your home or business through the National Flood Insurance Program.

      Federal Home Loan Bank of New York
      $1 billion in Disaster Relief Funding available to 340 community based lenders to help rebuild in the states of New York and New Jersey. The funding is available to be used as immediate “gap funding”. The $1 Billion CLP commitment can be used for any residential lending activity for households whose incomes are at or below 115% of the area median income. The funds can be used for Public/Private infrastructure projects, such as roads, utilities, and sewers.
      Phone: (212)441-6700

      Governor Cuomo’s Disaster Homeownership Repair and Rebuilding Fund
      This is a grant and does not require repayment. The grant can provide up to an additional $10,000 for Survivors who have already qualified for FEMA Housing Assistance and received the Max Grant of $31,900, and the FEMA award did not cover the full cost of making essential repairs. This funding cannot duplicate assistance received from other governmental agencies or insurance. Residents will be automatically referred to this program.
      855-697-7263 Hotline Information: How to prepare for the next storm; Agency Contacts; Donations; Help repairing homes; Power reconnections; Home evacuations/shelters.

      Home Affordable Modification Program
      Homeowners struggling to stay in their homes may be eligible to apply for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) in order to lower their monthly mortgage payments and make them more affordable. Homeowners should contact their mortgage servicer as soon as possible to begin the HAMP evaluation process. For more information see here.

      National Grid Hurricane Sandy Relief Program: Emergency Economic and Community Development program
      National Grid is offering funding up to $1,000 for their residential customers that sustained physical damage and lost natural gas service as a result of the hurricane and flooding. To be eligible for this program, the applicant must:

      • Be a National Grid residential gas heating customer with an active account; and
      • Have a service address within the National Grid gas franchise area in New York City or on Long Island; and
      • Be located in a county within an area declared a “State of Emergency”, by New York State and/or the Federal government; and
      • Have sustained damage of $3,000 or greater

      available through March 31, 2014, or as long as Hurricane Sandy Relief funding is available

      To determine program eligibility and for additional information see here and
      Phone National Grid at: 1(855)496-9359

      U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
      To expand housing options for families displaced by Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is allowing local public housing agencies to increase their rent payment standard up to 120 percent of the published “Fair Market Rent” (FMR), thereby giving low-income families more options in finding available housing. For families impacted by Hurricane Sandy, HUD is granting a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and forbearance on foreclosures of FHA-insured home mortgages.

      Insurance Resource Center
      The New York State Department of Financial Services is available at Cedar Creek Park daily from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. to offer residents advice on how to file an insurance claim for property damage from Hurricane Sandy. Representatives will also be present from several of the nation’s largest insurance companies, including: Allstate, Metlife, New York Life, Travelers, USAA and more. Read information about the Cedar Creek Mega Recovery Center.

      New York Peace Institute
      Are you in conflict with a landlord, insurance adjuster, family member, or neighbor over Sandy related issues? Mediation may be the tool for you. Even the most difficult disputes can be resolved with the help of professional mediators. Mediation is a free, safe and private way to resolve Sandy related conflicts.
      Mediators guide the participants through a series of problem solving steps so they can find their own solutions. Mediators do not make decisions, but rather help the parties to share their viewpoints and generate and evaluate options.
      Contact: Alan Gross, Ph.D, Special Projects Coordinator,

      NYS Department of Financial Services
      Help for homeowners, renters, and business owners with insurance-related issues stemming from damage caused by Storm Sandy. Department representatives will help residents contact their insurers if they have been unable to do so and answer questions about homeowners', renters', and business owners' insurance coverage.
      Insurance information is also available on the Department's website,

      Contact New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS):
      Hotline: 1-800-339-1759 (staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday)
      Hotline includes information about disaster assistance centers, where you can get in-person assistance.
      Online (Homeowners Insurance Resource Center):
      In Person: Inside the agency’s Mobile Command Center, DFS representatives will help homeowners, renters, and business owners with insurance-related issues. Go to the DFS website to learn the location of the Mobile Command Center.

      United Policyholders
      A national non-profit that has been helping disaster survivors navigate insurance issues on the road to recovery since 1991. The organization offers free tips, sample letters, and an "Ask an Expert" forum online at UP's Executive Director is a native New Yorker and former insurance analyst with the New York State Consumer Protection Board. UP does not accept funding from insurance companies.

      Temporary Cash Assistance and Benefits
      Online: New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) Department of Social
      311 Online:
      Phone: 1-718-557-1399 (HRA's Info-line).

      See Immigrant Affairs for resources or go to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to learn about Temporary Immigration Relief Measures

      Disposal of harmful household products
      The NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) will hold five SAFE Disposal Events (one in each borough) to provide NYC residents with a one-stop method to safely dispose of potentially harmful household products (see here). The acronym SAFE stands for Solvents, Automotive, Flammables, Electronics. Materials accepted include common residential items such as auto fluids, batteries, electronics, glues, medications, paint products, and more. Only NYC residential waste will be accepted at the SAFE Disposal Events.

      When deciding what items to bring, residents should look for products labeled with the following signal words: DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION. Products labeled DANGER represent the highest hazard level. Please also bring any other materials stored in your home that you know may be harmful.

      For additional information visit or call 311.

      Hurricane Sandy recovery and your health - (NYC DOH)
      New Yorkers living in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy face many challenges as they rebuild their homes and their lives. This site provides information on health issues associated with living in flood-damaged areas and around large-scale reconstruction, and on resources that are available.
      Health issues:
      • Advice for those living in homes without heat
      • Information on how to make home repairs safely – controlling dust, removing mold, cleaning sewage backups
      • Updates on outdoor air quality, and water quality
      • Tips for staying healthy

      Stress and Mental Health Issues:
      • News updates for communities affected by the hurricane

      HomeBase Homeless Prevention Program
      HomeBase is Citywide program designed to help families and individuals overcome immediate housing problems that could result in becoming homeless, and to develop a plan for long-term housing stability.
      Program services are crafted to meet the unique needs of each individual or family and to help meet the demands of maintaining a household.

      Colleagues at the Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program for NJ/NY/CT/PA recommended a new document created by NeighborWorks to assist survivors from Super Storm Sandy recover their home and communities, "Navigating the Road to Housing Recovery."
      There is also a calendar of upcoming events that may be useful to your constituents/clients.

      NYC Housing Recovery Portal
      NYC Housing Recovery Portal helps impacted New Yorkers learn about housing options and provides guidance on how to pursue them on their own or with help from the City.

      New York State Department of Homes and Community Renewal
      The need for safe, decent and affordable housing remains an ongoing challenge for the State of New York. This agency is committed to meeting this worthy challenge in comprehensive and innovative ways. The programs described below reflect our aim of advancing our housing goals for the benefit of our customers, the people of New York State.

      National Donations Management Network/NYC AidMatrix
      The National Donations Management Network (NDMN, aka AidMatrix) is a disaster-specific resource designed to make it as easy as possible to donate and accept financial support, product donations or volunteered skills and time. The portal provides an online platform to review and claim in-kind donations as well as post needs. Donations can be posted as general offers or as pledged donations to fill an organization’s posted need.
      • New York City Portal: and select the AidMatrix link.
      • New York State Portal:

      ReuseNYC is a support network for non-profit organizations handling in-kind donations and reusable goods in New York City. As a membership based organization, ReuseNYC provides free services, including: platforms for partnerships and development training for nonprofits and community donations programs. ReuseNYC also serves as the NYC VOAD donations sub-committee for long term recovery, in collaboration with the Salvation Army Greater New YorkDivision – Emergency Disaster Services Division.
      • Main Number: 212.650.8896
      • Website:

      Zone Finder and New York City Evacuation Centers/Shelters List

      New York Immigration Coalition referral service
      The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.
      137-139 W. 25th Street, 12th floor, New York, NY

      Military Families
      Go to American Red Cross website: