Some Blame De Blasio For Failures Of Build It Back Sandy Relief Program

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Nearly five years after Superstorm Sandy ravaged parts of New York City, the Build it Back program is over budget and plagued with delays.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, some say Mayor Bill de Blasio is to blame.

There is still a lot of construction going on in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn – one of the areas hit hardest by Sandy in late October 2012. There are still a lot of boarded-up houses, empty lots, and horror stories about the city’s efforts to rebuild.

“First, they told me I was ineligible, and then a year later, they tell me that we have you down for a knock-down. They never told me,” said George Shea of Gerritsen Beach. “They never told me, and I spent over $150,000 fixing my house.”

Shea did not let the city demolish his already-repaired house. It was a waste of money, he said, but he has nothing good to say about the city’s Build it Back program.

The effort to repair storm-ravaged areas was started by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and has been Mayor de Blasio’s headache for nearly four years. He was reportedly slow getting out of the starting block.

It is nearly $500 million over budget and filled with stunning inefficiencies. Shea said his neighbor used flood insurance money to fix his house completely, and then Build it Back got involved.

“Before you know it, the house was being knocked down and they’re getting a new house,” Shea said.

He said it was a huge waste of resources, and something the de Blasio administration should have stopped.

“Mayor de Blasio, you’re costing the city a lot of money,” Shea said. “It’s a crying shame.”

Meanwhile, five years after the storm, Ann Marie Minze’s son’s house is still not finished. The couple has been forced to live in apartment so small that “they couldn’t even put their Christmas tree up, so she had to put a drawing on the door.”

Minze also blames the mayor.

“He’s not looking at the broad picture,” she said. “He’s only looking at himseflf.”

The delays and waste brought Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis to the area, with a long list of suggestions about how things can be fixed.

“We’re spending over $700,000 to repair and elevate homes that were only valued at $200,000 or $300,000, it makes absolutely no sense,” Malliotakis said.

A Mayor’s office representative admitted that “the process hasn’t gone as fast as we’d like.” She pointed out, however, that when de Blasio took office, not a single family was back in their home – while now, it is about 80 percent.

Team de Blasio also sent a tracker to monitor and record the Malliotakis news conference Thursday, Kramer reported.

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