Two years after Hurricane Sandy made them homeless, Queens, New York, residents Jayme and John Galimi, remain in a temporary rental with their five children, the New York Times reported on September 4 (see "Hurricane Sandy Recovery Program in New York City Was Mired by Its Design," by Russ Buettner and David W. Chen).
"The Galimis were among the thousands of families caught in what has been nearly two years of crushing uncertainty, postponed promises and hopeless bottlenecks that have been the hallmarks of the city's program to help people rebuild homes that were destroyed by the storm that hit on Oct. 29, 2012," the Times reports.
The federal government allocated close to 2 billion dollars to New York City for its recovery effort; almost none of that money has been spent on rebuilding homes. According to the Times report, the original Build It Back program was hamstrung by a rigid application process that few applicants were able to complete. It also relied on private contractors for administration—contractors who hired inexperienced help through temporary agencies and sent them into the field without training.
"The effort also was bogged down under repeated changes of leadership," reports the Times: "Three executives have headed the program in the last year."
The city's performance stands in stark contrast to a state-level effort in New York State, reports the Times: "By the end of last year, the state had distributed nearly $119 million to help rebuild 2,854 homes, and then continued the pace during the first three months of this year, distributing another $190 million and including another 2,617 homeowners."
New York City's new administration has promised to turn things around. But they've got a long way to go: according to the official "NYC Recovery" website, the city's success tally today sits at 546 construction starts, 71 homes fully repaired, and 565 reimbursement checks sent out.
It's a start. But as the New York Times notes: "Some 13,000 homeowners are still waiting."