Rep. Michael Grimm faces a tough re-election fight this fall and a 20-count federal indictment for fraud and tax evasion. On Wednesday, he went back to a signature issue for him on the campaign trail: help for Hurricane Sandy victims. NY1's Michael Grimm filed the following report.
Garbage bags in a Staten Island backyard are remnants of damage still lingering from Hurricane Sandy.
Rep. Michael Grimm said on Wednesday that the city's primary program to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy isn't getting it done.
"There is no more hope. People have no faith in Build it Back," Grimm said.
Build it Back has been rife with delay, and the de Blasio administration promised to revamp the program earlier this year, getting 500 reimbursement checks out by Labor Day.
Grimm was slamming City Hall on Wednesday for other bureaucratic missteps.
"So whatever the mayor does as of this point, it's almost irrelevant. They're done," he said.
"We're working closely with [the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development] to make sure our program is in compliance with all the federal regulations," said Amy Peterson, director of the housing recovery office. "We set a goal of 500 checks. We've issued 536. And we're continuing to work with HUD to make sure we can help more homeowners."
When NY1 touched base with that federal agency, a spokesman said they were encouraged by the progress the city was making.
The de Blasio administration said about 10,400 homes have had damage inspections under the Build it Back program, and they said the entire program has been vastly improved since de Blasio took over, so it's unclear if Grimm's criticism has more to do with election-year politics.
"He was nowhere to be found," Grimm said. "Wouldn't have a clue about the issues regarding Build it Back or Sandy efforts."
"He's too much worried about his 20-count federal indictment," said Domenic Recchia, who is challenging Grimm for his congressional seat. "I'm going to work with the city, state and federal authorities to make sure everything's followed through and the money's well spent."
Grimm is facing federal indictment for fraud and tax evasion, and national Democrats are sending cash to Staten Island to support Recchia.
"He's a terrible candidate," Grimm said. "He doesn't know our issues, and I think that it will take every liberal in the world to try to get him elected."
Expect that criticism to continue to pile on.