An energized crowd of about 1,000 people gathered for a Faith in New York summit at the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral in Jamaica on Tuesday to learn about the progress and priorities of Hurricane Sandy rebuilding.
“This is a time for us to remember what was promised,” said the Rev. Floyd Flake, pastor of the Greater Allen A.M.E. and a former Queens congressman. “Our people should not still be suffering the way they are, 21 months after the storm.”
Much of the meeting focused on families in Far Rockaway where suffering from Sandy is still the most prevalent issue, according to residents. Many people are still suffering from leaking roofs, mold, no heat and no jobs as a result of the storm.
Amy Peterson, director of the Housing Recovery Office under Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other city officials listened to these concerned residents and assured them that things are changing.
“We are committed to working with all of you,” she said. “We are going to eliminate the red tape from Build it Back and everyone who has applied for it will get the support they need.”
Peterson said that since the de Blasio administration came to office, rebuilding is on the rise. But she said the fight is nowhere near over. Her office promised 500 checks to Sandy-affected homeowners by Labor Day. As of this week, 457 checks have gone out. She said that once Labor Day comes and they hit their goal, a new one will be made.
This was welcome news to Sandy survivors like Aracelis and Erik Cabrera who are still displaced from the storm.
“We applied for Build it Back but are still waiting to find out if we will receive the funds we desperately need,” Aracelis said as she wiped tears from her eyes. “We are glad that Mayor de Blasio is focused on fixing Build it Back so that families like ours can rebuild our lives and our home.”
Peterson said that within the next 60 days she would host a large job fair that will prioritize those people who were affected by the storm. When advocates for rebuilding asked Peterson whether they can have a meeting with de Blasio himself about the recovery effort she chuckled but gave a reassuring answer.
“Well, I don’t know his [de Blasio's] schedule,” she said. “But yes, we will try to work it out.”
Source: Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget