|Kevin Alexander, ED of RDRC giving APA planners a |
tour of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.
It Takes a Village
|The aptly named "Sand Bar" along the |
destroyed boardwalk in Far Rockaways, Queens
Diagnosing the Challenges - APA takes the lead
The APA NY Chapter was among the most significant outcomes of the effort to help RDRC. APA NY galvanized dozens of urban planners throughout the region and nation in an effort to diagnose the challenges and define a feasible recovery strategy for RDRC to follow. Volunteer survey teams, led by Mandu Sen and Nina Arron, approached a total of 297 businesses over the course of five months. The findings made it clear that even months after the recovery had begun, there remained a significant lack of coordination among City, State and Federal agencies. A key finding of the report found that most businesses had "difficulty taking advantage of available financial relief and other relief because of the complexity of the required paperwork. Business owners did not have a clear understanding of the different roles of each government agency nor of the amount of time they should expect to wait for assistance." While "one-stop" shops for financial relief had been set up to help, we found that many business owners could not take advantage of these resources. The distance of these locations from their place of business made it difficult for them to pay a visit. Some business owners also had concerns about confidentiality and resisted visiting these locations. In other cases, the owner was often the only one available to tend to the store, making a visit impossible during store hours. Moreover, the fact that so many automobiles had been totaled during the storm made transportation to and from these centers very difficult.
|APA Planners in action, including |
James Rausse and Kevin Alexander in front of a
closed Key Foods grocery store.
One of the most significant recommendations in the report is that of a mobile recovery unit funded and staffed by Federal, State and Local governments to educate and provide one-stop technical assistance to businesses applying for grants, loans, and other resources. This would enable business owners to set up appointments and pay the mobile center a visit in close proximity to their place of business. The report encourages RDRC to apply for discretionary funding from City Council or private foundations and banks to seek capital needed to purchase a vehicle for this purpose.
|Larisa Ortiz and Kevin Alexander in |
front of a damaged business
For more on the report and the local APA-NY Metro Chapter, click here.
Thank you's are in particularly order to some of the planners who made sure this report made it to the finish line, particularly Hillary Papineau, Heidi Exline and Mandu Sen of the Business Recovery/Food Access Team!