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De Blasio Announces Changes To Sandy Recovery Plan, Appoints Rebuilding Team

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new initiatives to speed the delivery of storm relief to those still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.

De Blasio joined Sen. Charles Schumer in the Rockaways on Saturday to announce his new plan for the city’s Build It Back program.

It includes reallocating $100 million to fund the rebuilding of homes destroyed by Sandy regardless of income level or priority level. De Blasio said the first reimbursement checks are already in the mail.

“For many New Yorkers, it’s been the worst 17 months of their lives,” de Blasio said. “Help isn’t just on the way, that help is already here.”

It’s been more than a year since the storm hit and many residents are still displaced from their homes. Many Sandy victims have said they are losing patience with the slow pace of recovery.

“I’m not satisfied with what the mayor’s done, I’m not satisfied with what Sen. Schumer has done, with any of the politicians,” said Adam Bierman, who was forced out of his house and is now living in an apartment in Rockaway Beach.”The amount of problems that my family and I are dealing with seem insurmountable.”

Ed Phillips told CBS 2’s Steve Langford he feels the bureaucracy and buck-passing have left him low on the city’s priority list.

“They stated that we make too much money. You might see money in 2018,” he said.

Phillips and his family are now living in their fifth rental in 17 months, Langford reported.

As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, Rockaways resident Noreen Ellis gave the mayor an earful Saturday, reminding de Blasio many of his city employees living in the area are still without homes.

“These are your cops, these your teachers, these are your firemen, who are homeless now,” she told the mayor.

De Blasio agreed, saying “surviving the storm and its devastating aftermath was one thing. But people had to then survive for months and months with the uncertainties.”

Last month, storm victims held a rally on the steps of City Hall claiming thousands of residents who applied for aid through the Build It Back program have not received a payout.

“There’s a lot of people here who have applied to the Build It Back program, but have not yet seen help,” Nathalie Alegre, a coordinator with the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, said in February.

The city has acknowledged that it has spent less than $10 million of the $648 million available for Sandy-related home repairs and rebuilding, Langford reported.

De Blasio also announced a new team to lead the city’s storm recovery efforts.

He said William Goldstein will serve as senior adviser for recovery, resiliency and infrastructure. Goldstein most recently served as executive vice president at MTA Capital Construction.

De Blasio said nonprofit executive Amy Peterson will serve as director of the Housing Recovery Office. Economic development official Daniel Zarrilli will serve as director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency.

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