CONEY ISLAND — A group of elected officials, lead by City Councilman Mark Treyger, are asking the mayor's office to move back the "impossible" Build it Back deadlines put in place by the mayor last year when he said the program would be finished by the end of 2016.
Treyger, the chair of the council's committee on recovery and resiliency, sent a letter to the program's director, Amy Peterson, asking that the Dec. 31 deadline be pushed back for the sake of struggling homeowners.
"These strict deadlines give the unpleasant impression that Build It Back may be prioritizing, in its own words, ‘moving aggressively toward Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of program completion by the end of 2016’ over the well-being of New Yorkers who have been waiting for nearly four years for their homes to be rebuilt," he said.
In June, the program quietly set new deadlines for homeowners enrolled in the program in order to move things along, he said. Those who don't meet the deadlines will get tossed from the program.
For example, there is now a shorter timeframe for homeowners to sign off on the contract labor agreement, which is difficult for people requiring translation services — something the city doesn't provide, Treyger added.
He's "deeply troubled" that the city cares more about meeting a goal instead of "actually serving the people who have been waiting patiently for Build It Back to rebuild their homes."
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Homeowners were rushed out of their homes last fall and winter to make it appear as though more projects were starting, they said. Many people who moved out waited months before work even began, and some are still waiting.
Sources told DNAinfo New York that the mayor's push was all about optics.
But a spokeswoman for City Hall said the the Dec. 31 deadline was all about the homeowners.
"Build It Back sets manageable deadlines for homeowners to ensure the city can complete the program and help these homeowners. These include set time periods to approve designs, relocate before construction, and submit required documentation," she said in a statement.
Registrants in the program were notified of the new deadlines, and 90 percent — roughly 350 homeowners — have complied with a 14-day approval for designs, she said.
She also said homeowners can request extensions to have work completed beyond the mayor's deadline, although she didn't know how many had applied for that.
“I believe in most of my district cases, BIB has intended to credibly assist my constituents, and in furtherance of working with them, I would appreciate BIB to grant reasonable extensions for those still seeking recovery from Sandy," he said.