City updates progress on Sandy recovery
With the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy nearing, representatives from various city agencies assured those still suffering at a news conference Tuesday that everything is being done to get their lives back to normal despite federal government red tape.
Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said the agencies are aware of the concerns from residents, particularly ones in the outer boroughs, who say they haven't received financial aid or given priority and said they want to make sure that the recovery is done with the highest of quality.
"Our first obligation is to those who were impacted," he said.
Agencies at the news conference included the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability and the Office of Emergency Management.
More than 23,000 applicants signed up for the city's Build it Back program, which provides homeowners with a specialist and options for repairing damage. Holloway said half of those applicants have already started their work on their properties.
The deputy mayor added more than 20,000 residential units in the five boroughs were restored under another post Sandy program, Rapid Repairs, where the city contracted hundreds of repair professionals to fix homes following the storm.
Although Holloway said FEMA and the Housing and Urban Development had been very helpful during the last year, Holloway acknowledged a lack of federal funding has been a roadblock to recovery.
The city has only received $1.77 billion of the $60.2 billion in Sandy aid that Congress approved in the beginning of the year, Holloway said.
The deputy mayor said the majority of that money has gone to reimburse the costs of housing repairs, loans and grants to affected businesses and long term storm proofing city infrastructure.
"All of that funding is allocated to these programs and we made tremendous progress," Holloway said.
The federal government will dole out more funding in the near future and Holloway said the city has been pressing them to speed up the delivery.
"We made it clear that we need a lot more," he said. "Hopefully a decision on the second [set of funding] is imminent. We would be certainly happy about that."