Seven months after the announcement of the Build it Back program, designed to help rebuild single and multi-family homes that had been devastated by the storm, tens of thousands of single-family homeowners who applied for the program are still waiting for help. NY1's Arlene Borenstein met with one of those homeowners and filed the following report.
Drive down Cross Bay Boulevard in Broad Channel and chances are you'll see a giant sign posted by frustrated homeowner Michael Del Pino targeting federal and local government groups involved in Hurricane Sandy recovery. The reason is because of what the inside of his home looks like.
"I just don't feel like I'm being helped, and I see that all over," Del Pino said.
Del Pino works for the city. His wife, Susan, is a public school teacher. They have two kids, 7-year-old Ava and 4-year old Aiden.
They haven't returned home since the storm. He said he's spent life savings paying the mortgage and rent for the apartment where they're staying, and that repairs to his home are essentially frozen. He blames Build it Back.
"The city is actually preventing me from moving forward, too, because since I'm in the Build it Back program, I don't know if I should continue to work on the house, not continue to work on the house, because they have to inspect the house," he said
It seems he's not alone. A city website designed to track Hurricane Sandy repairs lists nearly 20,000 applications for help building back single-family homes, about 2,500 pre-approval inspections and zero construction.
The program is also broken down by priority. Applicants with higher incomes wind up lower down the list for repairs, regardless of how much they've already shelled out.
Del Pino says he's at the bottom of the list.
"The fact that I'm priority 3 and the slow pace of the program really scares me," he said. "When they get around to priority 3, we just don't know when they'll get to priority 3 if they haven't even completed priority 1 assessments at this point."
Help may be on the way. A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio said that they plan on aggressively reviewing the previous administration's Hurricane Sandy recovery programs to speed aid to all homeowners, businesses and New Yorkers who still haven't fully recovered. Del Pino says that after two months of not being able to pay his mortgage, a quick solution is all he can hope for.