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Residents Question Why State's Sandy Rebuilding Program is More Effective Than City's

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TWC News: Residents Question Why State's Sandy Rebuilding Program is More Effective Than City's
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It's been nearly a year and a half since Hurricane Sandy swept through the region, yet damage remains at homes across the city and many fed up New Yorkers are questioning why the state's rebuilding program has been so much more effective than the city's and whether Mayor Bill de Blasio will honor his campaign pledge to those devastated by the storm.

The storm long ago blew out to sea, but the Rankine home still remains a shell of its former self.

Hurricane Sandy gutted the basement, used for guests and materials from the church that the couple runs.

Trevor Rankine has one word word for it.

"Embarrassing," he said. "It doesn't seem like it's a castle anymore."

Even more infuriating is that donated materials are literally within reach. The family just doesn't have the $20,000 it estimates it needs for installation.

The family isn't alone. A group called Alliance for a Just Rebuilding is drawing attention to these numbers. It says that construction has yet to begin on nearly 20,000 single-family houses registered under the city's Build It Back program. It's not much better at damaged apartment buildings.

"The ocean may have receded, but the impact of Sandy is still being felt across our city," said City Councilman Mark Treyger of Brooklyn.

Out of the city, though, there seems to be more relief. The state says that it's given more than $276 million to more than 6,330 homeowners.

The group says that Mayor Bill de Blasio should direct more housing officials to Hurricane Sandy relief, even as the head of the city's Build it Back program recently resigned.

In September, while still a mayoral candidate, de Blasio visited the Rockaways and promised to make it a priority rebuilding homes. The concern is that now that's he's elected, the mayor isn't living up to his word.

De Blasio was at a Hurricane Sandy recovery meeting Monday, emerging with no new projects to announce, other than that his team is reviewing Build it Back.

"It's self-evident that the pace has been a profound problem, and that the amount of paperwork and the difficulty for people completing the paperwork, of the sort of classic bureaucratic process, has been a real problem," he said.

It's something the Rankines know all too well.

"Pretty much, we're left on our own," said Yvonne Rankine, a Build it Back applicant. "I'm still hoping that someone will come to assist us."

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