City Mails First Three Checks for Build It Back Sandy-Recovery Program

By Katie Honan on March 31, 2014 1:36pm | Updated on March 31, 2014 3:36pm

 The family drained their savings and borrowed from family to rebuild, and hope to get some reimbursement through Build It Back. Now the city says checks are starting to flow. 
The family drained their savings and borrowed from family to rebuild, and hope to get some reimbursement through Build It Back. Now the city says checks are starting to flow. 
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

NEW YORK CITY — The city has sent out its first round of Hurricane Sandy reimbursements — three checks totaling more than $100,000 through Build It Back, one of the first real signs of movement in the long-stagnant program created last summer to help homeowners rebuild, city officials said.

Another $700,000 in checks are set to be mailed this week, Amy Peterson, the newly minted head of Sandy recovery, testified at a City Council hearing Monday.

But that represents just a fraction of the nearly $650 million that has been allocated for the program and the nearly 20,000 single-family home owners who registered for it. 

As of March 18, construction had not started on any single-family homes.

Ground has now been broken on six construction projects, according to Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, which administers the program. 

At the Council hearing, residents from Sandy-impacted neighborhoods throughout the city also testified, sharing their frustrations, including lost paperwork, confusion over regulations and miscommunication from city workers.

In December, the state's New York Rising program, which uses the same federal funds as Build It Back, sent out nearly 2,400 checks totaling $82.8 million.

The average amount of each check was $34,800, according to Newsday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced major changes to the program on Saturday, including the appointment of officials in charge of the Housing Recovery Office and more employees working in Build It Back offices across the city.

The goal was to kickstart both construction and reimbursement checks for homeowners who paid for fixes on their own, he said. 

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