Mayor Bill de Blasio Monday committed to starting 1,000 construction projects and issuing 1,500 reimbursement checks by year's end to aide homeowners still reeling from the devastation caused two years ago by superstorm Sandy.
De Blasio announced the plans at a news conference in a flood-damaged Queens community.
It's a continuation of the Build It Back program started by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Although the initiative was designed to provide assistance to victims of the 2012 storm, when de Blasio took office in January, there had been no construction starts or checks issued.
Since then, de Blasio said, the city has overseen 727 construction starts and sent 878 checks.
John Galimi, 45, whose Broad Channel home de Blasio visited, said his insurance payout alone was not enough to cover the cost of reconstruction.
"It's been a long two years, just like everybody else who was affected by Hurricane Sandy, and without the Build It Back program, we weren't going to be able to get back into our house," Galimi said.
After bouncing from a friend's house to rented homes, Galimi and his wife, Jayme, 44, are set to return to a storm-resistant house by Christmas.
Build It Back has not been without setbacks.
Galimi noted "bumps" and "curves" in the process, but told other applicants, "You've got to keep with it."
Amy Peterson, director of the city Housing Recovery Office, said 6,000 families have withdrawn their applications to Build It Back or have been deemed ineligible for help. She urged them to reapply, though de Blasio stressed they still may not be eligible.
A sign down the block from Galimi's home called Build It Back and other government programs a "failure," denouncing prioritization by income level, a standard that de Blasio eliminated to expand program eligibility.
De Blasio said the city will soon release new requests for proposals to increase design and construction capacity.