Superstorm Sandy relief will arrive faster to thousands of New Yorkers who are still suffering from the effects of the storm, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.
The mayor’s office released a report about the city’s response to the Oct. 29, 2012 storm and included recommendations to overhaul recovery programs.
Residents in Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways have complained that the administration hasn’t done enough to imrpove the recovery efforts since they haven’t seen a dime of recovery money and their homes are still in disrepair nearly a 18 months after the storm.
De Blasio agreed, and said his report will cut through the red tape.
“Now, we’ve laid out a blueprint to provide critical financial relief to homeowners and directly engage communities in the rebuilding process — all while continuing our work to ensure a stronger and more resilient New York,” he said in a statement.
The report calls for a faster selection for homeowners who receive aid, assigning buildings department staff to focus on the Buildit Back Program, which saw little of its $648 million spent on rebuilding homes. De Blasio eliminated priority levels for homes to be rebuilt in March and now ensured that an applicant’s income won’t be a factor for disqualification for rebuilding funds.
The administration said it aims to start repair or construction on at least 500 homes and issue 500 reimbursement checks by the end of the summer.
The mayor’s report said the city will coordinate state and federal agencies to facilitate the process and set deadlines and have regular joint meetings to get updates on the progress as part if the new Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
Some Sandy related groups said they were pleased with the report.
“We welcome the city’s expansion of rebuilding initiatives at the community and neighborhood level that will empower homeowners and help more residents gain access to good local jobs,” Nathalie Alegre, Coordinator of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding (AJR) said in a statment.
Marcia Bystryn, President of the New York Leauge of Conservation Voters, however said the report wasn’t specific enough.
“The creation of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency and the appointment of experienced staff are important steps forward, but it is unclear what resources the city will devote to their work,” she said in a statement.