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.READ MORE: 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Returns In Front Of A Live Audience Monday Night
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.
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.READ MORE: New Yorkers Cautiously Optimistic Bennett Will Be Good For Israel; Local Palestinians Not Confident Move Will Benefit Middle East
“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.
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.MORE NEWS: Pride Month: NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project 'Making An Invisible History Visible'
Hear their extended interview above and find more Stories From Main Street by clicking here.