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Build it Back plans workforce expansion

By Debbie Cohen

In mid-December Build It Back announced it was increasing construction capacity in Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn and stepping up local hiring for recovery construction, which was issued by the city Department of Design and Construction and the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery.

According to a spokesman, the Department of Design and Housing Recovery are issuing a new procurement for construction management and design firms that will greatly expand this construction and there will be separate competitions for new construction managers in all three boroughs. Local hiring will include construction apprenticeship programs and jobs.

Construction managers are encouraged to work with community groups and job training programs to identify candidates for construction-related work and required to register all job opportunities with Sandy Recovery Workforce 1, a first look job pipeline jointly managed by Housing Recovery and small business services.

“This procurement also marks a renewed commitment to local hiring on recovery projects, increasing social and economic resiliency in Sandy-affected communities through substantial workforce investment,” the HRO spokesman said. “The new hiring and contracts will go into place in the spring 2015.”

A pre-proposal conference for requests for proposals was held Dec. 19 in Long Island City and all applications were due by Jan. 8. The conference addressed an estimated total rehabilitation of 1,250 construction projects in Queens and 950 total elevations of dwellings. The neighborhoods include Edgemere, Far Rockaway-Bayswater, Hamilton Beach, Old Howard Beach, Rockaway Beach and Rockaway Park.

Amy Peterson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery, believes that since the mayor’s overhaul, this has been a year of significant progress.

“We expect the onboarding of new construction firms who will deploy new strategies to target entire neighborhoods, which will continue to accelerate the city’s Sandy recovery,” Peterson said. “We have also broadened the channels of communication by making regular visits to community meetings and participating in the Queens Sandy Recovery Task Force led by Borough President Melinda Katz.”

According to Feniosky Pena-Mora, commissioner of DDC, the department is excited to participate in the city’s Housing Recovery program by expanding the capacity of the city to get affected residents back in their homes.

“By contracting with large fully integrated construction management and design teams, we are hoping to provide innovative design and construction strategies to build back these neighborhoods to make them stronger and more resilient before any future events,” Pena-Mora said.

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