At the Ocean Bay Oceanside Apartments in Edgemere, Dennis Jenkins shows off the work that’s he’s done. For this public housing resident, it’s a huge deal considering he’s not only recently employed, but he has benefits too.
"I can now go and see about a house and things of that nature that I’ve never been able to do in 60 years I can actually call my union and they’ll help me do that," said Jenkins.
Jenkins was hired under a unique NYCHA program. For every contract project related to Sandy repair, the agency requires contractors to hire public housing residents or low income New Yorkers. Following guidelines set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that’s at least 30 percent of all new hires.
The contractor at Ocean Bay Oceanside, Navillus, has hired more than 50 percent. They have even sponsored several residents in the union so that they’ll have jobs and benefits even after the work has ended.”
To date, 25 of the 37 new hires working here are NYCHA residents or low income.
"Gives you a sense of community, bring the community into the project and letting them understand that we are not here just to get in and get out want to help people get involved and work and understand what’s going on in the project," said Billy Mastoras with Navillus Contracting.
Officials say overall about 300 of the 479 new hires involved in Sandy Repair projects fit the hiring standard… with more jobs expected as NYCHA rolls out 4 new projects in the coming weeks, and 20 more over the next few months.
“So what you’re going to see is as these ramp up those new job opportunities are there we take it seriously as our job to connect residents to opportunities and to get them qualified for those opportunities,” said Joy Sinderbrand, VP of Recovery and Resiliency for NYCHA.
Opportunities, Jenkins says are just waiting to be taken, knowing what its meant to him.
"It means that you can get a better life, it means that if you get up, put the footwork in that some good things can happen in your life," said Jenkins.
To learn more about the program, head to opportunitynycha.org.