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NYC officials: Sandy recovery still a top priority

A destroyed home is viewed along the beach

A destroyed home is viewed along the beach in the Belle Harbor neighborhood in the Rockaways in Queens. (Jan. 2, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

New York City's slow recovery from a hit by superstorm Sandy nearly a year ago remains a top City Hall priority, officials assured victims Tuesday at a news conference, even while admitting frustration at the barriers blocking more federal funds.

Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said city agencies are aware of the concerns of residents, particularly those in the outer boroughs who say they have not received financial aid nor been given priority in the recovery effort.

He insisted that even with the frustrations, there are plenty of examples of people getting their disrupted lives back together.

More than 23,000 applicants have signed up for the city's Build It Back program, which provides homeowners with the help of a specialist and options to repair Sandy damage. Holloway said half of those applicants have already started work on their properties.

Holloway said more than 20,000 residential units in the five boroughs were restored under another post-Sandy program, Rapid Repairs, in which the city contracted hundreds of repair professionals to fix homes after the storm.

More federal programs are needed, Holloway said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have helped in the continuing recovery since the storm hit last Oct. 29, Holloway said, but a more consistent stream of federal cash is needed.

A week before the one-year mark, the city has received only $1.77 billion of the $60.2 billion in Sandy aid that Congress approved at 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 of city infrastructure.

"We made it clear that we need a lot more," Holloway said at a news conference attended by officials of several city agencies, including the Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, and the Office of Emergency Management.

"Hopefully a decision on the second" funding will come soon, he said. "We would be certainly happy about that."

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