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Mayor Appoints Former OEM Chief to Help Sandy Victims Find Housing

By Heather Holland | November 5, 2012 6:40pm | Updated on November 5, 2012 6:49pm

NEW YORK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tapped a former city Office of Emergency Management to head the task of returning New Yorkers who have been displaced by Sandy into suitable housing.

Brad Gair, a former OEM deputy commissioner who also served as Federal Recovery Officer for 9/11, was appointed to be the director of housing recovery operations, Bloomberg announced Monday.

Gair, who lives in Park Slope, will report to deputy mayor Robert Steele and oversee the city’s efforts to house all New Yorkers who have been displaced by the storm, Bloomberg said at a press conference at P.S. 195 at 131 Irwin St. in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn.

In his new position, Gair will develop a comprehensive inventory of transitional and temporary housing options and will direct the transition of affected New Yorkers into temporary housing.

“Thousands of people had their homes destroyed or badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy,” Bloomberg said. “In addition to providing short-term shelter, today we are taking action to ensure that we can provide longer-term housing to those who are most in need. Solving the housing problems created by this storm is an enormous challenge, but we know that the resources exist at a variety of federal, state and local agencies."

"Brad Gair will help us marshal those resources and coordinate efforts so that we can get help to New Yorkers who need it as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Bloomberg added.

Gair — who worked with OEM from 2006 to 2009 — echoed assurances that there are plenty of city resources to accommodate those who are in need of temporary housing, including hotel rooms that could potentially be available for use.

“There are two important tasks,” Gair said. “First, we have to figure out the demand, or how many people need housing. Once we have quantified the demand, we will be working on solutions."

“We have lots of partners in this effort, including cash funding from the federal and state governments,” he added.

Gair will coordinate efforts with federal, state and local authorities including the City Housing Authority, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and the Department of Homeless Services.

In addition, the Mayor appointed four Community Recovery Directors dedicated to ensuring that the New Yorkers in the hardest-hit communities have the information they need about the services available to them. A single director was appointed to cover each borough, with one director covering both Manhattan and the Bronx.

Haeda Mihaltses will coordinate Staten Island; Matt Mahoney, associate commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, will coordinate Manhattan and the Bronx; Nazli Parvizi will coordinate Brooklyn; and Diahann Billings-Burford will coordinate Queens.

The directors will serve as the primary contact for residents and community groups who live in the most affected areas, city officials said.