By Kelsey Durham
Mayor Bill de Blasio paid a visit to the Rockaways Saturday to announce a new leadership team set to take over the city’s rebuilding efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy nearly a year and a half ago.
De Blasio was joined by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and several City Council members at the Seaside branch of Queens Library as he announced the appointments of three officials he has chosen to fast-track the city’s work in rebuilding homes that were wrecked in the 2012 disaster. Bill Goldstein, a former MTA official who also once served as president and CEO of the city’s School Construction Authority, was named the overall leader of the Build It Back recovery effort and will serve as the senior adviser for recovery, resiliency and infrastructure.
Amy Peterson, who has more than 20 years of non-profit experience, was named the director of the housing recovery office. Daniel Zarrilli, a Staten Island resident who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now works as an engineer, was appointed to direct the new office of recovery and resiliency.
De Blasio said the new appointments, along with $100 million in funds that were reallocated to help with Sandy rebuilding efforts, are the first steps toward making sure those who lost their homes in the storm finally get the help they need.
The mayor said over the last three months his administration has been working to improve Build It Back, a city program created in June to help homeowners, landlords and tenants return to their Sandy-damaged houses and apartments, and pledged that every home destroyed by the superstorm would be rebuilt, regardless of the owner’s income or previous prioritization rating.
Those who had applied for Build It Back had been given priority levels from one to three depending on storm damage and income level, with Priority One applicants having the highest financial need and whose properties sustained the most damage.
“This is what people have been waiting for,” de Blasio said. “From day one of my administration, this has been a priority, to get critical funds finally going where they belong, into the hands of deserving New Yorkers.”
De Blasio said the three new appointees have been tasked with speeding up the funding and rebuilding processes to help every New Yorker whose home was destroyed and also said they will work with the city Department of Buildings to speed up the permitting process.
“We understand exactly how much still has to be done and how far we still need to go,” the mayor said. “Nothing is more central than getting people back into their homes.”
Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at email@example.com.