De Blasio outlines overhaul of Build it Back

By Sarina Trangle

Mayor Bill de Blasio trekked to Midland Beach in Staten Island Thursday to unveil what he called a major overhaul of the city’s Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.

The mayor pledged to hasten the pace of Build it Back, a program to assist homeowners, landlord, renters and tenants affected by the 2012 storm. His administration’s plans include appointing borough leaders to coordinate assistance efforts with multiple government agencies, assigning city Department of Building inspectors to work exclusively on recovery work and creating a website where applicants can track their requests’ in real time.

“Because of the reality of global climate change… the question is not if we will be confronted by more extreme weather events, it’s when and how,” de Blasio said. “We have to make a real long-term commitment to creating a stronger and more resilient New York.”

De Blasio emphasized that the Build it Back program had not begun construction on any homes before he took office Jan 1.

Since then his administration put out a report showing construction workers have broken ground on work at nine homes and 30 reimbursement checks had been sent to those who financed reconstruction work on their own.

De Blasio did not mention those statistics, but heralded figures demonstrating that the city had offered nearly 4,000 homeowners repair work offers, an eight-fold increase, and close to 1,000 of these offers had been accepted. After such an acceptance, the mayor said design work and construction begins immediately.

The mayor also announced plans for an initiative to help residents affected by Sandy to secure jobs helping with recovery-related construction in their communities.

Rev. Arthur Davenport, of First Church of God in Far Rockaway, welcomed this proposal.

“We applaud de Blasio and his administration for offering new hope and opportunity to vulnerable New Yorkers through their commitment to make New York a national model for the creation of local living wage jobs and career paths to our people to rebuild our own city,” he said.

Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at strangle@cnglocal.com.

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