NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Jim Killoran has been swinging a hammer for social justice for more than 30 years.

“We just want everyone listening to this to be able to live in a simple, decent home in New York and the Tri-State Area,” he tells Sean Adams.

As the head of Habitat for Humanity in Westchester County, he marshals an army of volunteer builders.

“There’s many seniors in this county that are hidden poor that have no heat tonight and have no food, because they can’t decide whether to pay their taxes or try to live,” he says.

img 2121 Stories From Main Street: Habitat For Humanitys Jim Killoran Building A Better Future

Westchester County Habitat for Humanity’s Jim Killoran (Credit: Sean Adams/WCBS Newsradio 880)

The mission of building affordable housing started to expand with the changing weather. Killoran now considers himself a disaster response specialist. A dozen years ago, he helped Mamaroneck after devastating flooding.

“And that became my warm-up for Hurricane Sandy,” he says.

When Sandy struck, Killoran couldn’t sit still in Westchester. He headed for the Rockaways.

“We were able to set up quickly so that by a week and a half later, I dropped four shipping containers, 40 port-a-johns,” says Killoran.

img 2124 Stories From Main Street: Habitat For Humanitys Jim Killoran Building A Better Future

Westchester County Habitat for Humanity’s Jim Killoran (Credit: Sean Adams/WCBS Newsradio 880)

He responded with an old, donated mobile home and all-terrain vehicles. They stayed for the long haul.

“We gave $9 million of volunteer labor to the Rockaways according to one of the FEMA guys,” he says. “We touched 18,000 homes. We had people out there four years.”

With monster storms intensifying, Habitat for Humanity is adapting and planning for the future.

“We have to not building quickly, but build for the long term and resilient. And that’s what we see about about $100 billion of disasters just in the last six months, including Irma, Maria, Harvey and the California wildfires,” he says.

Hear their extended interview above and find more Stories From Main Street by clicking here.

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