City Confirms Build it Back Deadline Will Not Be Met
With the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy just days away, the mayor admitted the city will not meet his deadline to complete thousands of rebuilding projects. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
For Graham Beach resident Shirley Gabel, Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement the city won't meet his deadline for rebuilding thousands of homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy is no surprise.
She's been carefully watching the rebuilding of a neighbor's home under the Build it Back program. The project, she says, has been wrought with mistakes and delays.
"They had laid out cement down here and then it was all done wrong, and they had to chop it all back up again," Gabel said. "It's nice to be able to spend other people's money."
De Blasio had promised with much fanfare that the rebuilding would be completed by year's end. But in a report released Thursday, he said, "We will fall short of that goal, for which my team and I take personal responsibility.”
The announcement adds to Build It Back's woes. City Hall previously said the program is over budget, needing another half-billion dollars to complete work on all Sandy rebuilds, 8,500 homes in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island.
"I honestly don't know how you can sit here with a straight face after blowing billions of dollars and ask the City Council for more money when you can't even meet your own deadlines," said City Councilman Eric Ulrich of Queens.
The City Council summoned Build it Back officials to a hearing Thursday as Sandy's fourth anniversary approaches. The officials blamed ballooning contractor costs and the complexity of raising homes to protect them from future floods, issues that have forced the city to spend, in some cases, nearly $1 million per home.
"It's a horror. $900,000 to lift a house that's maybe worth $250-, $300- now since the storm," said Ocean Breeze resident Robert Raimundi.
Officials did not set a new deadline for the troubled program, and Build it Back even left open the door on the possibility that it could cost taxpayers even more money down the road to finish the work.
"It is very clear that Build it Back has been a tough program since day one," said Amy Peterson of Build it Back.
Still, Build it Back's director says more than 90 percent of participants will have been given money or started construction by the end of the year.