Three years after Superstorm Sandy’s flood waters swept through Sheepshead Bay, the city’s Build it Back program is reporting measurable progress in the neighborhood.
More than three-quarters of Sheepshead Bay residents enrolled in the program have been helped, according to the latest figures from the Office of Housing Recovery. Out of the 364 active applications, 220 received reimbursement checks totaling more than $4.8 million. Meanwhile, construction has begun on 55 homes in the neighborhood, and 37 of those have been completed, the city reports.
The rate of recovery in Sheepshead Bay has outpaced the numbers for the city as a whole, where 60 percent of the 9,397 applicants have received some form of aid, according to city officials.
That doesn’t mean the program has been able to reach all Sandy-impacted homeowners. Build it Back stagnated for more than a year under the Bloomberg administration and the bureaucratic morass caused many to give up on the program. At the beginning of 2014, the city had not begun construction or sent out a reimbursement check for a single home. Indeed, more than half of the initial applicants for Build it Back have dropped out. The numbers are similar in Sheepshead Bay.
The consequences of Build it Back’s slow start can be seen throughout Sheepshead Bay and its surrounding neighborhoods. Many residents continue to room with friends or family while they wait for the city to rebuild their homes. Some neighbors have simply abandoned their houses and moved elsewhere. And the unique design of the Plumb Beach/Sheepshead Bay courts, which house a collection of densely-packed bungalows, has flummoxed city officials attempting to create resiliency measures for those homes.
Soon after taking office, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to eliminate much of the red tape preventing homeowners from accessing Build it Back funds, and has credited the program’s turnaround to those reforms. The Mayor is expected to announce Thursday in Staten Island that repairs will be completed for all of Build it Back’s 9,300 applicants by the end of 2016, New York 1 reports.