The Broken Build It Back Program

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NEW YORK—The city’s flailing Superstorm Sandy housing recovery program has gone through almost $10 million in federal disaster aid, but not one home has been rebuilt to show for it. Eight months after its launch, Build It Back is still little more than a behemoth of administration, paperwork, and federal rules that both the city and program applicants find extraordinarily difficult to navigate.

Though it was launched in June 2013, the most significant progress seems to have come in 2014—after months of work to retool the program under Build It Back Director Kathryn Mallon. Mallon temporarily took over from Brad Gair in October to, in her words, “get the program up and running.” Mallon, who is also deputy commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection, resigned as director last week. Her last day will be Feb. 28.

“We did the foundational work—and I think you’re seeing the fruits of it,” said Mallon, referring to the community meetings that are now being held in Sandy-struck communities to assist and answer applicants’ questions, as well as the number of people finally being offered assistance.

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