Investigators: Struggling to rebuild, 3 years after Sandy

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Jim Hoffer has more (WABC)

The de Blasio administration is doing far better than Bloomberg in repairing homes heavily damaged by Sandy, but nearly three years since the storm, red tape and confusion in the city's Build It Back program are still getting in the way of some desperate to get back to normal.

To get a true glimpse of the problem, one home-owner went undercover to one of the Build It Back offices.

"This is my life. This is how I'm living," Allison Mclean said.

It's been nearly 3 years since storm Sandy destroyed the entire first-floor of Mclean's home.

"I'm trying to hold it together but his is really, really painful. All the ceilings whatever you own and this is what it's reduced to. Everybody gives me the run around," she said.

Almost 3 years of Allison and her family crowded onto the second floor, sofas turned into beds.

"No one should sleep like this for 3 years," Mclean said.

Last August, the City's Build It Back program approved Allison for $80-thousand dollars to rebuild her home. She selected her own outside contractor from a list of city- approved builders. Then the months of waiting began.

"It's pretty incredible that the money is there but the bureaucracy is so great that you cannot get your house fixed," Mclean said.

To show us what she meant, Allison along with her daughter took an undercover camera on her latest visit last week to the Build It Back Office.

Allison: "What is holding it up? We just want to know why."
Case Worker: (shakes her head) "No clue."
Allison: "No clue?"
Case Worker: "Truth of the matter is I don't know what to tell you."

Allison says she's gone to Build It Back a dozen times to try and get to the bottom of the delays.

"I've been interviewed by everyone, Carmen, I know Ms. Jenkins, the guy in the back, everybody been interviewed, so this game needs to stop," she said.

This time, she insists on speaking to the Supervisor. He tells her the only thing holding up the money is a signature from her contractor.

"Roy needs to sign a tri-party agreement with us. That really sends the money to him. If he doesn't sign that agreement, it sits in pending, it just sits there," Peter Morgan, Build It Back supervisor, said.

But the Mayor's Office of Housing Recovery which oversees Build It Back blames the delay NOT on an unsigned document, but on the outside contractor chosen by Allison. The city says the contractor misled her and was never capable of beginning repairs on her house because he had too many projects underway and wasn't insured to take on Allison's rehab as well. Last week, Build It Back hooked up Allison with a city-hired contractor that we're told is set to begin work on her house in three weeks. But why did it take nearly 12 months for Build It Back to help her figure it out?

Amanda/Allison's daughter: "What has stopped this from going through?
Peter Morgan/Supervisor: We have 27-thousand applicants sitting waiting in cue it does get backed up unfortunately but it does."

The City has different numbers saying they received about ten thousand applications and nearly half of them have had their homes repaired. Allison is among the 5-thousand still waiting.

"I am disgusted with all this bureaucracy. Just disperse the money let people live peace. That's all I want,"
Allison said.

The Mayor's Office of Housing recovery says that nearly all Build It Back applicants have been made an offer with half receiving cash reimbursement or actual repairs.

A spokesman added they will continue to expedite work until every homeowner gets the relief they need.

This story came to us through a tip. Remember if you have a story you need investigated, please give our tip-line a call at 877-TIP-NEWS

Related Topics:
newshurricane sandysuperstorm sandyinvestigatorsNew York City
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