IDA CLEANUP: NYC opens service centers in each borough, AG James wants housing vouchers for basement tenants

Governor Hochul Tours Flood Damaged Homes in East Elmhurst, Queens
Governor Kathy Hochul, joined by Senator Jessica Ramos and U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tours several homes in the East Elmhurst section of Queens that flooded from torrential rains brought on by Hurricane Ida.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of the Governor

The city opened service centers in each borough on Saturday morning for individuals seeking financial and other assistance in the cleanup and recovery efforts from Wednesday’s flash flooding related to Hurricane Ida’s rainy remnants.

Each center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily to provide New Yorkers in need with assistance with in-person support and information. Workers from city agencies, nonprofit groups and community based organizations will be on hand to help you apply for public benefits, health insurance, housing, food assistance, mental health counseling and more.

The centers are being operated by the NYC Departments of Emergency Management and Social Services. Assistance is available to every New Yorker impacted by the devastating floods of Sept. 1, regardless of immigration status.

“The flash flooding we experienced in New York City was devastating for many families,” said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani. “To help New Yorkers navigate the various services and resources available to them, we have established a service center in each borough with assistance from our agency and nonprofit partners. I encourage those affected to visit their local service center, call 311, or access city services online by visiting NYC.gov/ida.”

The centers are located as follows:

  • Bronx: P.S./M.S. 194, 2365 Waterbury Ave., Parkchester
  • Brooklyn: P.S. 15, 71 Sullivan St., Red Hook
  • Manhattan: I.S. 88, 215 West 114th St., Harlem
  • Queens: M.S. 125, 46-02 47th Ave., Woodside
  • Staten Island: I.S. 51, 80 Willowbrook Road, Westerleigh

Wednesday’s flooding killed at least 13 people in New York City, the vast majority of whom lived in basement apartments in Brooklyn and Queens that became rapidly submerged. Many of these apartment are believed to be illegally converted and not properly regulated. 

With that in mind, state Attorney General Letitia James urged New York City’s government on Friday to offer emergency housing vouchers to New Yorkers living in unregulated basement apartments.

“Extreme rainfall and other severe weather events are now the rule, not the exception, in New York. In the face of that risk, it is our duty to move these New Yorkers out of harm’s way by offering them safer, regulated housing,” James said in a statement. “To prevent these problems in the future, we must also ensure that basement units are safe for human occupancy and regularly inspected. Overcoming the twin threats of climate change and a housing crisis will not be simple, but we must ensure measures are in place to protect our neighbors and prevent a future catastrophe.”

Also on Friday, Governor Kathy Hochul continued her tour of flood-stricken parts of the New York City metropolitan area, visiting with affected residents in Queens and Staten Island. She told Staten Islanders that it was time for the state to go on offense when it comes to adapting to climate change and preventing future tragedies when the next storms strike.

“Let’s go on offense and do everything we humanly can to be resilient, to be prepared, and when a crisis hits, have better early warning systems for people, particularly people who have been living in basement homes and lower levels that are particularly vulnerable,” Hochul said. “That is our first line of defense, is to fight against that complacency, which is a very natural human reaction to people telling you it’s going to be bad again because you say last time it wasn’t and I got through it, or I can fight back, I can survive a hurricane.”