STATEN ISLAND — As the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy nears, the city last week started work on a program to replace some decimated properties with modular homes, sources told DNAinfo New York.
In the pilot program, some of the Sandy-damaged properties around Staten Island and Queens will not be rebuilt, but rather replaced with prefabricated units. The goal is to speed up the process at the long-delayed and over budget Build It Back program.
"With the delivery of our first modular homes on Staten Island, Build It Back is improving and expanding the ways we build resilient housing in New York City," said Amy Peterson, director of the Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery Operations (HRO), in a statement.
"This option gets families home faster by cutting construction time in half and will serve as a model for storm recovery efforts across the country."
The prefab pilot program was first reported by NY1 in February.
Crews started work on two properties around Midland Beach last week and were on site installing a prefabricated, two-story double wide at 137 Freeborn St. on Thursday, according to a source and a spokesman for HRO.
As part of the construction, workers first install a large block foundation then lift the prefab home onto it with a crane, according to NY1 and bid documents released in March.
The homes would allow the city to cut costs of rebuilding entire homes then placing them on steel columns to elevate them, NY1 reported.
While there were concerns with the logistics of the program by some lawmakers, they said the ability to finally get some Staten Islanders back home outweighs them.
"My biggest concern is the difficulty of transporting these homes through narrow streets, and the impact that could have on these communities," Councilman Steven Matteo said in an email Thursday to DNAinfo.
"I will work with the relevant agencies to make sure that impact is minimal. However, I think the benefit of a less expensive, high-quality, resilient home that can be built relatively quickly outweighs those potential problems - particularly since this program has taken so long and cost so much already."
The city plans to start demolition on the Queens properties later this month then lay the foundations in October, according to a source who works for the Build It Back program.
The program will cover 98, one- to four-family homes mostly in Midland Beach, South Beach, New Dorp Beach, Far Rockaway and Broad Channel, according to the bid documents and HRO.