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Stringer audit faults Sandy homeowner help

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer holds a

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer holds a news conference on Aug. 28, 2014. Credit: Charles Eckert

Consultants hired to help homeowners rebuild after Sandy left them high and dry with work that was flawed or incomplete, Comptroller Scott Stringer alleged in an audit released Tuesday of the city's Build It Back program.

Millions of taxpayer dollars were paid out for the unfinished work, Stringer said.

"New York City's response to Sandy was a case study in dysfunction," Stringer said, adding, "The city allowed consultants to run amok."

The audit added to long-running criticism of Build It Back, which was started by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg to help communities ravaged by the 2012 superstorm. Stringer reviewed the program between June 2013 and August 2014.

The audit, while praising much of Mayor Bill de Blasio's efforts, faulted the administration for plans to renew a contract with outside vendors that in Stringer's view failed to perform, including incompletely processing thousands of aid applications.

Speaking at his own Sandy-related event in Red Hook, Brooklyn, de Blasio said "the vast majority" of Stringer's recommendations "are already being acted on in the work of the Build It Back program."

Amy Peterson, who oversees Build It Back, said the city took control of the contracts in place more than a year ago, replaced the main vendor, added performance requirements and lowered costs of the prior administration.

Bloomberg spokesman Stu Loeser said in response to the audit that the program got 20,000 families back into their homes in fewer than 120 days and that contractors who failed early on were fired.

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