Home rebuilding program passes through Brownsville

Olsen Augustin, left, working on repairs at a home in Brownsville as part of the city’s Rebuilding Together initiative.
Lilly McNicholas / Rebuilding Together NYC

The city’s affiliate of the national Rebuilding Together organization stopped in Brownsville on Oct. 18, to help out homeowners get some much needed repairs. The program — Rebuilding Together NYC — aims to fulfill construction work on the homes of low-income New Yorkers, also brought along a team of Brownsville natives to give a helping hand to their neighbors. As part of their mission, the program not only benefits homeowners who cannot afford pricey home repairs, but also allows people who want to pursue a career in the construction industry with a chance to perform some hands-on work through their training workforce.

One trainee said he was thankful that such a program existed because he was able to earn some skills, and find some work.

“I love it. Rebuilding Together is a diamond in the rough and I know a lot of people can’t get a job because there are certain things in life they are dealing with,” said Olsen Augustin. “The people who run Rebuilding Together are everything, and they set you straight on a good path to succeed 100 percent.”

As a lifelong resident of the neighborhood, Augustin — who is of Haitian descent — said while gaining some valuable skills, he gets to help people in his community. And the result has been rewarding.

“I feel good, I’m like a philanthropist at heart so any way I know that I can help is a bonus,” he said. “I believe in karma, and I know a lot of people in the neighborhood that need the help because they’re really old and can’t do it, and I’m working and doing my part.”

Olsen’s performed demolition, tile replacement, debris removal, and applying sheet metal and brick-laying as part of his work in the program. He added that he often does different tasks per house depending on repair needs.

He said towards the end of the Rebuilding Together’s six-week program, he hopes to have a better grasp of using certain tools, along with being able to update his resume to include what he learned.

“As far as skills, I would hope I get a better knowledge on how to use these tools and my experience in the field,” said Augustin. “I’m mostly getting all of the direct entry I need for all of these trades, and while it wasn’t promising in the beginning, now it is actually at my feet.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com. Follow her on Twitter @AS1mon.

More from Around NYC