To Expedite & Ease Recovery Process
New senior leadership team to oversee and execute the city’s Hurricane Sandy recovery and rebuilding efforts was appointed last Saturday, Mar. 29, by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Joined by Sen. Charles Schumer, the architect of the Sandy relief bill, de Blasio also announced new plans to improve much-needed relief delivery to those recovering from the devastating impact of Sandy.
These appointments and policy announcements accompany major improvements to Build It Back and new progress on recovery and rebuilding efforts over the past three months, as this week, critical funds began to flow to New Yorkers in need, and home repair construction kicked off.
Bill Goldstein will serve as senior advisor to the mayor for recovery, resiliency and infrastructure; Amy Peterson will serve as director of the Housing Recovery Office; and Daniel Zarrilli will serve as director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
In his new capacity, Goldstein will serve as City Hall’s lead on the planning and execution of New York City’s broader infrastructure efforts, including oversight of the newlycreated Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), which will provide overall coordination of the city’s entire federally-funded rebuilding and resiliency efforts.
Goldstein, formerly the executive vice president at MTA Capital Construction, will report to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris. Zarrilli, an architect of the city’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) plan, will lead the new Office of Recovery and Resiliency and will report to Goldstein.
As the director of the Housing Recovery Office (HRO), Peterson, an engineer who worked on the city’s recovery following 9/11, will also report to Goldstein. Peterson has extensive experience in construction disaster recovery; her priorities will also include matching low-income New Yorkers with rebuilding jobs.
“Since Day One, my administration has prioritized the fast and efficient delivery of relief to affected families, and now we begin to see results,” said de Blasio. “Construction has started, the first checks are on the way, and we are making immediate policy and staff changes to further expedite and streamline the process-so that New Yorkers get the help they need now. I know that Bill Goldstein, Amy Peterson and Daniel Zarrilli have the experience to get families critical relief and ensure a stronger and more resilient New York.” de Blasio also announced the implementation of structural changes to streamline the Build It Back process and spur much-needed progress on reconstruction and reimbursements. Under the initiatives unveiled today, the city will:
– reallocate $100 million previously appropriated for HUDCommunity Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to ensure every home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy is rebuilt, regardless of an applicant’s income or current program prioritization;
– immediately boost HRO staff by 35 percent, to about 105 staff members, by transferring skilled personnel from other agencies into HRO;
– accelerate the design process for home repairs and rebuilds by moving design consultation to immediately after an offer is given to a homeowner;
– make it easier for homeowners who have received prior benefits to engage with Build It Back and fully understand their options;
– homeowners will be able to fully proceed through the design process before needing to make transfer payments;
– allow homeowners to set aside their transfer payments for temporary relocation expenses if they are displaced during construction;
– eliminate permit and procedural bottlenecks that are slowing repairs and rebuilds; for example, clearing outstanding Buildings Department permits that have prevented some Sandy rebuilds and repairs from moving forward; and
– publish an updated strategy with diagnostic and additional specific recommendations to improve Sandy recovery in two weeks, on Apr. 11.
The improvements announced have already allowed the city to make meaningful strides in serving Build It Back clients.
Since January, the administration has transformed Build It Back efforts to better serve applicants, and results include: completing more than 7,000 of nearly 10,000 completed damage assessments; increasing by six-fold the number of completed option review meetings (from approximately 500 to nearly 3,000), constituting more than $275 million of the $300 million in offers made; and completing calls to 5,000 unresponsive applicants to yield an additional 1,200 applicants interested in program re-entry.
“We need to effectively coordinate our citywide efforts toward resiliency. It is vital for the city’s future that our infrastructure be able to meet the challenges of future severe weather events,” said Goldstein.
“Helping these communities recover and rebuild is critical. We are working together to ensure that the process is streamlined and that the funds get out the door and into the communities that need them,” added Peterson.
“New York City has seen the devastation caused by Sandy and recognized the threats posed by climate change,” said Zarrilli. “To address these threats and strengthen our neighborhoods, we are more committed than ever to building a stronger, more resilient New York.”
“The first priority of the Sandy relief bill was to compensate storm victims for damage. Now, finally, the necessary steps are being taken for all who lost their houses,” Schumer said. “With the right people and right policies now in place, I believe this coming year will be a better one for those who are still struggling with the aftermath of the storm-we will see houses rebuilt and homeowners repaid. Today’s announcement is a down payment, and I look forward to this administration taking additional steps to ensure Sandy victims who went into their pockets to pay for repairs themselves will be quickly made whole.”
“I’m proud to join Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer and my Council colleagues to announce critical improvements to streamline the city’s Build It Back program,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “These enhancements will strengthen the city’s recovery efforts and ensure New Yorkers have the resources they need to rebuild their homes quickly. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Senator Schumer for their work and look forward to working with Bill Goldstein, Amy Peterson and Dan Zarrilli as we continue to support relief efforts for New Yorkers devastated by Sandy.”