More than four years after Hurricane Sandy, the city has completed repairs on just 60 percent of homes in the Build It Back program, the Daily News reports. Mayor de Blasio had previously promised to fix all the homes by the end of 2016, but in October, with just 44 percent of the homes completed, he walked back that promise.
Shortly after, the city hired Luis Mendes, who oversaw cleanup at the World Trade Center after 9/11, to serve as chief of operations for Build It Back. His presence appears to have made a difference. Build It Back is reportedly completing work on 75 homes each week, three times the pace it was moving in October. De Blasio also signed a law in early November that sped up the process. The law made it easier for contractors and homeowners to cut through red tape that often held up work on homes in need of repair.
Even with those improvements, the program was nowhere near reaching the ambitious goal of completion by the end of 2016. Blame for the delay has been spread around and include particularly complicated rebuilds, difficulty finding temporary housing for those living in homes that need repair and mismanagement of the program. Of the 8,374 homeowners that remain in Build It Back — more than 200 have dropped out since October — 10 percent are still waiting either for construction to begin or for a reimbursement check.
Amy Peterson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations, told the Daily News that the city will continue working toward the program’s completion through the winter. “The team has been hard at work completing hundreds of projects and getting families home for the New Year. Every home and family is unique. This is painstaking work,” she said.