The NYC Build It Back Program has meetings set up with some of the highest priority homeowners starting tomorrow. Many families, like the Cherichetti family, are still waiting to hear from if they can get the help they need to restore their homes that were devastated during Hurricane Sandy. Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Victor Cherichetti said he's not normally emotional, but visiting his still empty house destroyed by Hurricane Sandy overwhelms him.
"It’s just I'm heartbroken, I don't know what to do,” he said. “Something that nobody should have to go through.”
Looking at the shell of a home is bad, but worse is that his wife and two kids are staying with her mother in Canarsie and there's not enough room for him, so he's bedding down in Bensonhurst.
“It's not a way to live and I'm paying a mortgage on a house that I can’t live in and I'm paying double bills,” said Tami Cherichetti.
They say the home is a total loss and flood insurance didn't give them enough money to rebuild. So they're waiting for the city's Build It Back Program to figure out how to proceed.
“I waited and I waited and I didn't hear from them. I called them last week and they told me there are nine documents still missing and I know that they're not,” said Tami Cherichetti.
The mayor initiated Build it Back to address unmet recovery needs for homeowners, landlords and tenants. Sign up started in June and ended in October.
The non-profit We Care New York said it seems like a long delay.
“Since everyone has signed up, I don't anyone that's really gotten the support that they've been hoping for,” said Mike Taylor of We Care New York.
At least one homeowner has received money through Build It Back and two weeks ago the city announced the first three multi-family buildings to benefit.
Knickerbocker Village in Lower Manhattan will get almost $1.5 million and two large properties in the Rockaways will share about $1 million.
The city tailors the federal housing aid to individual needs, verifying eligibility and damage and assessing money already received from other sources. The paperwork takes time.
“The government, it's like, where are they,” said Victor Cherichetti.
A spokesperson for Build it Back tells NY1 none of the documents the Cherichettis submitted were lost, but some of the paperwork was incomplete or missing. None of that, though, puts them at the back of the line.
It's still unclear if the Cherichettis are in the high priority need category. There are 11,000 applicants in that category, but the $648 million in the program will not cover them all.