Build It Back Public Meeting in the Rockaways Feb. 6

Council Member Donovan Richards to host meeting amid growing frustration over slow housing recovery program
By Genevieve Belmaker, Epoch Times
February 3, 2014 Updated: February 4, 2014

NEW YORK—Communities in the Rockaways hit hard by Superstorm Sandy could get some answers about Build it Back during a public meeting this Thursday, Feb. 6. The meeting will be at P.S. 42 Q – 488 Beach 66th in Arverne, Queens in the Rockaways.

Councilman Donovan Richards, Build It Back representatives, the Legal Aid Society, the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula, and Margert Community Corporation representatives will be at the meeting. Build it Back Director Kathryn Mallon will also be on site, and community members have been promised one-on-one sessions with housing recovery experts.

As New York City’s main housing recovery program for New Yorkers impacted by Sandy, Build it Back has faced widespread criticism for failing to provide enough relief in a reasonable amount of time.

As of Feb. 3, only 12 single-family households were at the stage they could soon begin rebuilding under the program, according to Build it Back’s director of external affairs, Lolita Jackson. 19,920 single family households applied for Build it Back. Their application progress is updated monthly on the city’s Sandy Tracker.

The program includes options for repair, elevation, and rebuilding, and beneficiaries are divided by category.

“We expect construction to begin for all pathway options –repair, elevation, and rebuild–in February,” wrote Jackson in an email to Epoch Times on Jan. 29. She also said that some low-income applicants might see reimbursement checks soon, but did not say when.

Jackson said that Build it Back has “scheduled or completed” 4,327 meetings with New Yorkers who registered for the program. The preliminary estimate of help offered through those meetings is expected to come to more than $100 million. She did not say how many meetings have been completed.

“I cannot leave struggling families without answers,” said Council Member Richards in a statement on the importance of the meeting he worked to facilitate. “Although the storm has passed, the families who have emptied their life savings just to make it from day to day still have no idea when help will come.”