City Council probes rebuilding program post-Superstorm Sandy
Only six of the Sandy-ravaged homes participating in the city’s Build it Back program have seen construction start, the city revealed on Monday.
The City Council held an almost seven-hour-long hearing on Monday to tackle the city’s initiative to rebuild homes destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
Many residents were on hand to share their frustrations with Build it Back, which was designed to connect homeowners with $1.45 billion in federal money to rebuild and restore buildings destroyed more than a year ago.
“This administration may not have made the mess,” Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said at the hearing, “but this administration has to clean it up.”
Roland Gorton of Breezy Point, Queens told his every attempt to seek guidance from different agencies and organizations resulted conflicting information.
Gorton testified that applied for assistance under an earlier city-based program more than a year ago, but was told that he needed to rip out his damaged floors in order to elevate his house.
Gorton then ripped out the floors only to be told he needed to install flooring in order for contractors to work on the building before the program shuttered in January 2013.
“The program’s ended now,” Gorton said. “Okay, so that’s great.”
The city’s new Director of Housing Recovery Amy Peterson admitted to the Build it Back’s blunders and “overly complicated” process but promised to turn it around.
“Early missteps, unrealistic assumptions and overly complicated processes have hindered rebuilding,” she testified to the Council.
Peterson, who started her tenure on Monday as well, vowed to make up for the setbacks.
“We’re going to make sure the money gets out to people,” she said.
She testified that of almost 20,000 applications for aid through the program, only six have begun construction, while $100,000 in reimbursement checks have been sent out, and another $800,000 in reimbursements would go out this week.
Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria