Mayor de Blasio Announces Gains in Build it Back Program

June 13, 2017

As Sandy reconstruction continues, nearly 1,400 homes have been rebuilt since October and more and more families are moving home to resilient houses and stronger neighborhoods

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio announced that 1,394 homes in the Build It Back program have finished construction since October last year, as the pace of home resiliency and reconstruction picks up. These projects include ground-up reconstructions, elevating existing homes and extensive rehabilitations of damaged properties. As of today, 3,819 Sandy-damaged homes have completed construction.

“While we still have a lot of work to do, we are seeing real progress under Build It Back, and more families hurt by Sandy are moving home every week. We will never walk away from the families and communities so badly damaged by this storm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Build It Back is now completing homes on an aggressive schedule, and has significantly increased its pace. At the start of the de Blasio administration, no homes were under construction and no checks had been issued. The program began in 2013.

Of 8,278 applicants in the City’s Build It Back program, 5,174 require construction work performed by Build It Back. As of June 13, 4,746 of those homes, or 92%, have seen construction start, and 3,819, or 74%, have seen construction finished. Overall, 95% of families have been issued a check or are in construction.

Of the projects where the City is managing construction, which comprise the vast majority of Build It Back homes, 98% of homeowners have been served and 86 percent have had their construction finished.

“Build It Back made a commitment to our waterfront communities, one we continue to honor. Tremendous progress has been made in the last year and we continue ramping up construction and getting New Yorkers impacted by Hurricane Sandy home. These houses will be safe, resilient, and better able to face the next storm,” said Build It Back Director Amy Peterson.

“Hurricane Sandy, the worst natural disaster in the city’s history, demonstrated our vulnerabilities to coastal storms and flooding risks.  It also demanded that we not only build back what was, but that we invest to better prepare for the growing risks of climate change and rising seas,” said Daniel Zarrilli, NYC’s Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer.  “Today’s announcement shows that, despite the many challenges, the hard work is paying off.  Thanks to Amy Peterson and her team at Build it Back, we are seeing results. These efforts, and others being taken across the city as part of an over-$20-billion resiliency program, are helping us to build a stronger, more resilient city.”

Out of a total $20 billion allocated to New York City by the federal government for Sandy recovery, New York City’s Build It Back will cost $2.2 billion and fortify homes and communities across New York City. The average age of homes in the program is 81 years old, predating modern building codes. After construction began, and damaged and deteriorated conditions of homes became clearer, the de Blasio administration requested, and the federal government approved adding, $500 million to the $1.7 billion estimate of costs needed to complete the Build It Back program. 

“Superstorm Sandy was one of the most destructive storms to hit our region and the effects are still very visible.  The Build it Back Program has been an asset to the recovery effort in the district. There is still work to be done but we will continue to mark the progress made, as well find ways to support those constituents still affected by Sandy. It is my conviction that all constituents deserve to be served,” Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said.

“The minutes, hours, days and months may have elapsed since Superstorm Sandy struck, but the individuals made victim of this ferocious storm will never forget its devastation. The Build It Back program has been a cornerstone for these individuals and has allowed them to have some peace of mind in that their homes – their place of solace – are finally emerging from the effects of the storm. The dust is finally settling and healing has begun, in large part due to the Mayor’s strength with the Build It Back Program,” Assembly Member Jaime Williams said.

“Every time a resident can return to their home after years of struggles following Superstorm Sandy is worth celebrating,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “There is still work to do to bring every New Yorker back into their home, so I look forward to the day when we are truly built back, better than ever. I’d like thank Mayor de Blasio and Director Amy Peterson for their dedication to finishing the immense amount of work Sandy left us with.”

“From the beginning, Build It Back has worked with us and has listened to all our concerns and complaints. After a slow start, we are starting to see people come home. We understand that New York City has never been in the business of building homes and has strict HUD guidelines to follow. We wish the process could have been faster and more efficient, but are glad they have kept the lines of communication open with us over the years. We can’t wait for the day to finally say, “Everyone is finally home where they belong,” said Nicole Romano, President of the New Dorp Beach Civic Association.

“As a member on our civic board, I had been in constant contact with Build It Back to assist community residents who requested help with a problem.  Build It Back, without fail, would get back to me and would look into the issue. More times than not, they had bent over backwards and were able to straighten out the problem. For a program that was never before tried, Build It Back has managed to get our families back home and continues to do so. I thank Build It Back and ask them to continue until the last family is home,” said Debi Vadola, former President of the Midland Beach Civic Association and current board member.

Through the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency and in collaboration with its public and private partners, the City is implementing a comprehensive $20 billion resiliency program, informed by the best available climate science. With this funding, we are building a stronger, more resilient New York by strengthening coastal defenses, protecting infrastructure, strengthening communities, and adapting buildings. 

The pace of our progress is stronger than ever in all five boroughs, and the city is already much safer than when Sandy hit, as a result of measures that have already been put in place, including:

  • 4.2 million cubic yards of sand in Coney Island and on the Rockaway peninsula
  • 9.8 miles of dunes across the Rockaway peninsula and in Staten Island
  • Reforms to the City’s flood maps to keep flood insurance affordable
  • Upgrades to the City's building code to address new climate threats
  • Investing more than $3 billion for reconstruction and resiliency projects across New York City Housing Authority developments impacted by the storm
  • Investing $1.7 billion for the Health and Hospitals Corporation (Coler, Bellevue, Metropolitan, Coney Island)
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