NEW YORK CITY — The City Council passed a bill that would allow homeowners in the city's long-delayed Build It Back program to demolish their homes without all the permits previously required in a bid to speed up long-delayed construction projects, officials said.
The law, which passed Thursday in the Council, will allow demolitions and elevations on Build It Back projects to proceed even if there's an "existing violation or other condition that may have delayed such work," the bill states.
The ruling only applies to homes registered in the Build It Back program, and in a contract by city agencies including the Department of Design and Construction and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
The bill was deemed a "necessity" by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who admitted last week the program won't make his goal to finish every single-family home by the end of this year.
At a hearing on the bill earlier Thursday, Amy Peterson, Build It Back's director, said there are 200 homes in the program with open permits that are delaying progress — which has been a problem throughout the program's nearly three-year history.
"Certainly we all want to finish Build It Back, but one of the most complicated pieces of this has been trying to help homeowners who have things with their homes that don't make things simple," she said.
With the immediate waiving of outstanding permits, they can capitalize on the warmer November and December months for demolition and construction, she said.
The bill was praised by elected officials who have been critical of the program, which is $500 million over budget despite helping less than half of the original applicants.
But they also questioned why it took so long to make this step.
"Why didn't we do this a while ago?" asked City Councilman Steven Matteo of Staten Island.