CANARSIE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An often-criticized initiative to rebuild Superstorm Sandy-damaged homes has started work on more than 130, finished 30 and dispensed more than $6.3 million to reimburse homeowners for reconstruction costs, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

De Blasio, standing in front of a home having its roof replaced on East 102nd Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn, on Thursday, said his administration sped up and otherwise fixed the Bloomberg administration’s Build It Back recovery program, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“We’ve streamlined the process to get construction started; made it a lot simpler to get to the first moment when the hammer hits the nail,” he said. “People come in, they get answers, they get action,” he said.

De Blasio said the city is now operating all the Build It Back centers.

“We finally have something in the year 2014 that we never saw in the year 2013: completed homes,” de Blasio said.

The snail’s pace of the recovery program not only triggered an audit by the city comptroller, but also created frustration among homeowners, including Thomas Cunsolo, head of the Midland Beach Alliance, WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond reported in April.

“This is New York, so the rest of the country is watching,” Cunsolo said.

The city’s goal is to have started construction on 500 homes by Labor Day.

De Blasio made the promise three months ago, amid widespread frustration with the program, which former Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in June 2013. As of April, only nine homes were undergoing work, and none had been finished.

Changes include eliminating income categories that had prevented some applications from moving forward while others were pending.

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