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De Blasio Vows to Finish Delayed Build it Back Program by End of 2016

By Nicholas Rizzi | October 29, 2015 4:18pm
 Mayor Bill de Blasio set a deadline to complete the single-family home Build it Back program.
Build it Back Deadline
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NEW DORP BEACH — Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to completing the city's delayed Build it Back program by the end of 2016 on Thursday.

De Blasio visited the Sandy-damaged Maple Terrace home of Mary Lou and Frank Barcia, who recently had their home completed by the program — on the three year anniversary of the storm — and vowed to complete the rebuilding program for single-family homeowners.

"We will not be satisfied until everyone who was displaced is back in their home," de Blasio said. "We made, finally, some real progress."

The program attracted 9,300 applicants. The city approved 5,319 of them and has mailed out all of their checks, officials said. The program started 2,014 jobs and completed 1,217 of them. De Blasio said that 63 percent of the applicants to the program have seen a check or started work on their home.

"This is not a victory lap," Staten Island Borough President James Oddo said. "There is no such thing as a victory lap with Sandy."

The program, started under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been plagued with delays, suffered "flawed or incomplete" work paid for by the city and was criticized by residents and de Blasio himself.

"It's self-evident that the pace has been a profound problem," de Blasio said last year. "Right now, for a lot of people, it's still more theory than fact."

"We know we have to do better," de Blasio said.

On Thursday, de Blasio said the deadline for the single-family program — for homeowners of one- to four-family units — would push the city to get people back in their homes quicker.

"The sad fact is when I came into office there wasn't real progress," he said. "Our mission is to get families back into their homes."

Build it Back has also helped owners of 11,000 multi-family homes, officials said.

The Barcias are still waiting for many of their neighbors to return home.

Other homes on their block are scheduled to start construction by the end of the year, following in their footsteps after contractors had to raise their home about 7 feet off the ground — at a cost of between $200,000 to $250,000, officials said.

"We're back now forever," Mary Lou Barcia said. "Now we're safe."