Couple unhappy with city's 'Build it Back' repairs after Sandy

Next week marks the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, and two Wakefield residents say their rebuilding experience through the city's "Build it Back" program has been anything but smooth.

Horacio and Maritza Colon say they were ecstatic when the city approved them for the Build it Back program after a year of waiting, but their hopes were dashed six weeks into their home repairs. "It's been a nightmare," says Mr. Colon.

The Colons say issues include uneven drywall, exposed wiring, sawdust everywhere and a roof that has leaked at least three times since being repaired. Workers showed up last week to continue their repairs, but the Colons refused to let them in because of the quality of their repair work.

The Build it Back program was created to help New Yorkers make repairs to Sandy-damaged properties. According to the Build it Back website, several options exist to make repairs. They include having NYC Build it Back assign a contractor, whom the city will pay directly. Homeowners can also choose their own contractor, whom the city will pay directly, or ask the city for reimbursement for repairs that have already been completed. Homeowners might also have the option of selling their property to the city.

News 12 contacted NYC Housing Recovery, which runs Build it Back, about the Colons' unfinished property. The agency responded via a statement that "Quality control measures are in place, including inspections." The agency said the Colons' super is no longer assigned to their home and no longer works with Build it Back.

With a new super in place, the Colons say they see a difference. "They are doing everything they are supposed to do," says Mr. Colon. "I mean, that's all we ask for. That's what we signed up for." Still, the couple remains cautiously optimistic. They believe it will be at least several months before their home is finished.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has said Build it Back is stepping up its recovery efforts, aiming to have as many as 1,000 construction projects started and 1,500 reimbursement checks issued by the end of this year. 

The program had a bumpy start back in June 2013. However, the mayor's office promises that there have been major changes, including hiring more staff and streamlining requirements. The city estimates that Build it Back has helped hundreds of families this year, granting early 900 reimbursement checks. 

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