The federal government has given the city billions of dollars to rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, but only a tiny fraction of that money has been spent, and hurricane victims, and lawmakers want to know why. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Victor and Tami Cherichetti still love each other. They're separated now, but not because they want to be.
Tami shares two rooms with their two kids in her parents' place in Canarsie, and Victor lives with his parents in Bensonhurst.
"It's a strain," Victor Cherichetti said. "When I do stay here, we have no privacy."
Their Gerritsen Beach home was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Now, they're waiting on Build It Back to find out how much, if anything, they'll get to rebuild.
"All they would have to do is say, 'Alright, we approved you. Now, your money is guaranteed. Spend your money in that aspect, and we'll reimburse you so you can continue the project,'" Victor Cherichetti said. "That would move the project on so much faster."
They're not alone. In fact, nearly 20,000 people have applied to the city for Build It Back. About 2,500 have had their awards calculated, and according to the city's own website, only 154 have been selected.
Take a look at the city's pie charts. Of the $648 million earmarked for Build It Back, just $9.7 million has been spent.
Federal lawmakers say that is unacceptable
"One person is being told one thing, another person is being told another, and every person at Build it Back seems to be giving different information," said Rep. Michael Grimm, whose district covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. "The program is completely broken."
Grimm said to look at the state's performance. The feds gave the state $838 million for housing recovery programs. It has written $573 million worth of checks to 7,097 homeowners for Hurricane Sandy repairs and buyouts.
Sen. Charles Schumer says that that proves it's not the state or the feds. He says that the city under the Bloomberg administration took its "sweet time."
"With the city, we got a stonewall," Schumer said. "I don't want to prejudge the new mayor, and I want to give him, as I said, a little time to get his people in place."
Anthony Shorris, the city's deputy mayor for operations, admitted that the city's performance is indefensible, adding that the administration hopes to reorganize the program in the coming weeks.
The Cherichettis are skeptical.
"I just think talk is cheap," Tami Cherichetti said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Click here for more info about how the city has planned to allocate federal Hurricane Sandy funds.