NYC to overhaul Superstorm Sandy rebuilding program - New York News

NYC to overhaul Superstorm Sandy rebuilding program

Posted: Updated:

By MEGHAN BARR | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled a sweeping report Thursday that examined New York City's recovery progress from Superstorm Sandy and promised to reform a much-maligned program that was supposed to rebuild wrecked homes.

Speaking to about 50 homeowners, officials and community leaders in a storm-battered Staten Island neighborhood, the mayor said the city is aiming to start rebuilding an ambitious 500 homes through its federally funded Build-It-Back program by the end of the summer. Only nine homes are currently under construction, none of which have been fully rebuilt.

"Let's be blunt: It has been overly complex and confusing for homeowners over the last year and a half," de Blasio said.

The crowd cheered when de Blasio said he wants to build a "high-quality local workforce" through a new initiative that will connect low-income New Yorkers with construction jobs on recovery projects.

Joe Herrnkind, 51, whose home was destroyed by the October 2012 storm, wasn't convinced by the mayor's vows. Several other Staten Island residents left the news conference in disgust, he said.

"It's just one bad road after another with Build-It-Back," he said. "They ask you for information which they lose on a weekly basis, to cut down another forest of trees, to make you come in and sign more documents and bring in more documents. It's frustrating because you've been going through this for 18 months with them."

Widely considered a failure, Build-It-Back was created by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to primarily help New Yorkers repair, rebuild and elevate homes, though some funding was also designated to aid renters and owners of multi-family properties.

To speed up the recovery process for homeowners, the city will eliminate income categories that had given priority to low-income residents and prevented the remaining applications from being processed, allowing hundreds of additional homeowners to get help, the mayor said. Now, income level will not disqualify any applicant from being able to rebuild, get reimbursement money or become eligible for a buyout through the program.

The city has already been granted $1.45 billion in federal funding for the program, and about 20,000 people have applied for rebuilding and repair assistance. But as of this week, checks had been mailed to just 30 homeowners to reimburse them for repair work already completed. The mayor said the goal is to mail reimbursement checks to 500 homeowners by the summer's end.

"Despite all the challenges, we will build back," de Blasio said. "We will build back stronger."

Inspectors from the Department of Buildings will be assigned exclusively to Build-It-Back to streamline the pre-construction process. Program directors will be appointed in each borough to coordinate across city agencies and avoid confusion. And a new web portal will allow applicants to track their recovery status.

The city plans to offer relief from city water bills for vacant, damaged homes and partner with a coalition of legislators to provide property tax relief for about 1,500 homeowners lost their property tax cap after Sandy hit.

To help immigrants who are living here illegally and were displaced from their homes, the American Red Cross is partnering with the city to provide rental assistance. The federal government has not said whether it will allow immigrants in the country illegally to access federal Sandy relief funds.

Associated Press writer Michael Sisak contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Dwayne Johnson hosts 'Hercules' screening for NYC children

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:30 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:30:48 GMT
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
    When he's not slaying three-headed beasts with his olive-wood club, Hercules carves out time for the little people. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson treated fans from the Harlem Boys and Girls Club and Big Brothers Big Sisters NYC to an advance screening of his new film. I caught up with the larger-than-life action hero after the big surprise.
  • The Big Idea

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Making New York City more energy efficient

    Thursday, July 24 2014 10:20 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:20:19 GMT
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
    More than half the population of New York City rides public transportation to work. No other metropolis in this country even approaches that percentage or the MTA's total number of riders. For that reason, New York likely ranks as the most energy-efficient city in the nation. But what would it take to make the city even more energy-efficient or even self-sufficient?
  • Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Suffolk County jail warden is highest-paid muni worker in NY

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:48 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:48:14 GMT
    New York State NewsNew York State News
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
    The Empire Center for Public Policy reports 1,803 local government employees outside of New York City have been paid more than Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $179,000 salary in the past year. The report from the fiscally conservative group for the year ending March 31 shows 47 of the 50 highest-paid municipal employees working for police departments or sheriff's offices and each taking home more than $250,000.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices