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Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Waive Building Fees For 'Build It Back' Homeowners, Further Streamlining Sandy Recovery Process

July 1, 2014

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Legislation part of Mayor’s broader Sandy overhaul that is expediting recovery and providing direct financial relief to homeowners

NEW YORK—Today, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation that will allow the Department of Buildings (DOB) to waive building fees for New Yorkers impacted by Hurricane Sandy who are rebuilding or repairing their homes through the Build It Back program, further streamlining recovery and expediting the pre-construction process.

The legislation, which was proposed by the de Blasio administration, is part of the overhaul of the City’s post-Sandy recovery programs announced by the Mayor this spring.  

Previously, Build It Back contractors would have to pay DOB fees on behalf of homeowners and then be reimbursed by the City using federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) relief funds. Now, those fees will be waived—eliminating steps that slowed the pre-construction process and freeing up federal relief dollars that can be used to fund additional DOB staff.

This new DOB staff includes inspectors dedicated specifically to Build It Back properties, allowing homeowners to move quicker through the pre-construction process.

These changes complement a variety of other improvements announced this spring, including expedited construction and reimbursement processes, expanded eligibility, direct engagement with local communities (including office hours at elected officials’ offices, and a focus on local job creation), and much more.

“We promised to expedite relief for New Yorkers who have been waiting too long—and today is another step toward getting Sandy-impacted families the support they deserve,” said Mayor de Blasio. “By eliminating pre-construction steps while freeing up federal dollars for actual relief, this bill complements the major steps we’ve already taken to streamline Sandy recovery. Thank you to the Council for quickly passing this legislation.”

“By partnering with agencies like DOB to waive fees and bring on dedicated staff, we’re able to further expedite the construction process and get New Yorkers impacted by Sandy the relief they need,” said Amy Peterson, Director of the Mayor’s Housing Recovery Office. “Combined with the other major improvements underway, we’re putting Build It Back back on track—getting construction started and checks in the hands of homeowners.”

“Allowing New Yorkers to more quickly rebuild from damages caused by Hurricane Sandy is crucial to the recovery process,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We’re grateful that the de Blasio administration shares this priority with the Council, and we look forward to continuing a productive dialogue about measures that will best serve New Yorkers still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.”

“I commend Mayor de Blasio on continuing to develop the Build It Back program through increasing construction and homeowner reimbursements. We will continue to work together to facilitate a more streamlined construction process, and bring federal dollars directly where they are needed to expedite the rebuilding of areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“This is a necessary common sense measure to let Sandy victims know that their government has their back and will cut through fees and red tape as much as possible to help fast track their recovery. With many Sandy victims still waiting for the relief and help they deserve, I am pleased to see real reforms to the City’s recovery plan taking effect. Thanks to Mayor de Blasio for recognizing this need and for keeping all those impacted by Sandy a top priority,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Recovery and Resiliency.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio for continuing to ensure that families that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy get the assistance they need to rebuild their lives,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “The elimination of fees to the Department of Buildings is a step in the right direction to ensuring that this recovery process moves faster.”

“I am grateful to Mayor de Blasio and my Council colleagues for swift action on this common sense measure. This fee waiver will save both time and limited federal funding, which means the City can help more people still reeling from Hurricane Sandy, more quickly,” said Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio.

“By speeding up the rebuilding process and waiving these fees, we are bringing coastal communities throughout the City one step closer to full restoration. The day when people can finally move back home cannot come soon enough. I want to thank my colleagues in the City Council and Mayor de Blasio for demonstrating, time and again, an unwavering commitment to helping Hurricane Sandy survivors and their families,” said Council Member Eric Ulrich.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio today for signing legislation that provides relief to homeowners who were adversely impacted by Hurricane Sandy. It is the moral responsibility of the City to alleviate the burden of many New Yorkers who have been waiting so long for this much-needed support. This new law provides peace of mind to homeowners who have endured extensive delays while waiting to rebuild or repair their homes,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene.

“I was proud to vote in favor of this legislation, which will provide much-needed relief to Sandy-affected families. Build It Back applicants have only limited resources available to them, and this is a good way to ensure that recovery dollars are going back into their homes,” said Council Member Steven Matteo.

“The introduction of this waiver is a practical way for Sandy-affected home and business-owners to easily transition back into normalcy. It is an example of a shift in this Mayor’s commitment to a recovery process that is comprehensive, sustainable, and shaped by the real needs of affected residents. While this is only a part of what will turn out to be a broader recovery and resiliency plan, this is a welcome step. As a member of the Recovery and Resiliency committee, I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor, Committee Chair Treyger and with my colleagues in the Council to ensure that the effects of Superstorm Sandy—and of future disasters—are met with preparedness,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.

“Mayor de Blasio is following through on a major commitment to address a critical issue affecting Sandy survivors. By dedicating DOB staff to Build it Back and removing unnecessary fees, homes will be rebuilt faster and at reduced costs. This crucial reform shows that the Mayor is focused on addressing the needs of Sandy survivors who continue to struggle to rebuild their homes and their lives. We are very encouraged by this announcement,” said Susannah Dyen, the coordinator of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding.

Also today, Mayor de Blasio signed Introductory Number 12-A, requiring the Department of Education to report on demographic and academic information on co-located schools. These reports will be submitted to the Council annually, beginning on August 30, 2015 and posted to the DOE’s website. The demographic data will include a comparison of race, ethnicity, English Language Learner status, special education status, and percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch in charter and non-charter schools that are co-located. These reports will allow parents and community members to more easily review and assess how co-located schools are performing. The bill was approved by the City Council at the Stated Meeting on June 11. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the City Council, including the bill’s sponsor Council Member Andy King.

“Today’s signing of Intro 12 signifies the beginning of a conversation on how do we establish ‘one’ education system for all of our children. The comparison of co-located schools allows us to assess best practices and strategies, as well as increase parental involvement that will help us better educate our children. I am thankful to Mayor De Blasio, Speaker Mark-Viverito, the Council’s Education Committee under the leadership of my colleague Council Member Dromm, and the City Council District 12 Staff for helping Intro 12 become a reality,” said Council Member Andy King, Co-Chair of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus.

“Having the data that this legislation requires will provide us with a better understanding of the effects that co-locating schools have on school communities,” Council Member Daniel Dromm, Chair of the Committee on Education. “Knowing the demographics of these co-located schools will help us evaluate the schools’ performance. A dose of sunshine on school co-locations will give us all a better understanding of exactly what is going on in these schools.”

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