Staten Island Residents Are Taking Action As Build It Back Sits Idle

August 18, 2014

If you’ve driven down Hylan Blvd. recently, you may have noticed some local Islanders rallying near the corner of Hylan and Jefferson Ave. Led by Aiman Youssef, the founder of Midland Avenue Neighborhood Relief, residents are now taking action in front of Build it Back’s local office, demanding answers on why the agency has done so little and where the funding has gone.

According to a recent Epoch Times article, the city agency, which has helped less than 1% of the 22,000 registered homeowners in the past year, “the city is paying $5 million in salaries to employees of the Build It Back program.” With salary information obtained through the Freedom of Information act, we now know the head of Build It Back Amy Peterson is paid an annual salary of $181,000. Additionally, the city is advertising three vacancies with salaries ranging from $56,937 to $88,649 per year.

This article has left locals completely puzzled and enraged as to why so many are still left in limbo and why they are still waiting for help 22 months after Sandy. Although not well advertised, anyone can check out the Sandy Funding Tracker. According the site’s funding overview, a total of $13 billion has been allocated to recovery in New York City: $10.6 billion administered by the city and $2.4 billion from federal agencies.

“Though a breakdown of contractor staff salaries was not immediately available, the city’s Sandy Funding Tracker states that a dozen contractors and their subsidiaries hold contracts worth more than $484.6 million in total. They have already spent almost $20 million,” wrote  Epoch Times reporter Genevieve Belmaker.

Under the housing recovery section, you can find a breakdown of how many inspections the city has conducted and how many homes have been rebuilt or how many have begun construction.

According to the Funding Tracker, “Progress in the Build it Back program has ramped up following a major program overhaul.” Mayor de Blasio’s “One City, Rebuilding Together” report set a goal to start construction on 500 homes and issue 500 reimbursement checks by the end of the summer. However, as of Aug. 5, 2014 there have been:

  • 10, 374 inspections;
  • 5,517 option review meetings;
  • 2,743 options selected; and
  • 810 completed design consultations.

In addition,

  • 512 reimbursement checks have been approved;
  • 188 construction starts; and
  • 50 homes have been fully repaired.

That is 50 homes… out of the 22,000 homeowners registered with the program. When broken down by borough, there are 4,610 registrants from Staten Island–or 21% of all BIB registrations. There have been 87 construction starts, but 25 completed. So, out of 4,610 homeowners, 25 have been repaired.

Over the past couple of weeks, residents have been rallying in from of Build It Back, and they invite anyone who has been affected by Sandy to join them. Here are some videos and photos of locals who still remain in limbo. (All videos and photos are from Aiman Youssef–Midland Ave. Neighborhood Relief)


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