Last summer, several contractors told NY1 they were owed millions of
dollars by the city's Hurricane Recovery Program build it back, and
weren't getting paid because the program was out of money.
The city responded saying that was categorically false.
But now the de Blasio administration is doing an about face, seeking $92 million dollars to close out the beleaguered program.
"It's a shame that last year they felt the need to say everything is
good when obviously it wasn't,” said Roque Schipilliti, a contractor for
Build It Back.
Roque Schipilliti is one of the nearly two dozen contractors believed
to be waiting for payment with debts first reported last summer by NY1.
Build It Back had blamed the late payments on the lengthy audits required before cutting final checks to contractors.
But in seeking new funds this week, Build It Back says the additional
cash will be used in part, to pay contractors and close out
"We were misled. Something wasn't right, and if there's new funding,
you connect the dots. You have new funding; now you're paying. So that
must have been the issue, right?" said Schipilliti.
Build It Back once hailed the rebuilding work at MaryLou Barcia's
home as a success story. Mayor de Blasio visited four years ago to
celebrate its completion.
But she says she's had to spend $25,000 of her own money since then to fix faulty work done under the city program,
And the contractor hired by Build It Back placed a lien on her home because he still hasn't been paid by the city.
"Where did that money go? It should have been there! Not now you're
begging for money all over. That don't seem right," said Marylou Barcia,
a Build It Back participant.
This isn't the first time Build It Back has asked for more money.
In 2016, the city requested and received an additional $500 million in an attempt to complete its recovery work.
That brought the total cost of the troubled program to $2.2 billion.
A little more than half of the additional $92 million needed would
come from the U.S. department of housing and urban development; the rest
from city taxpayers.
In addition to paying contractors, the money would be used to buy
properties damaged by Sandy, and to build 37 flood-resistant homes on
acquired lots in Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens.
Special Flushing Waterfront District protesters returned brandishing “Housing justice for all” and “The massive waterfront giveaway” signs for the developers’ presentation at Community Board 7’s Land, Buildings and Zoning Committee hearing Tuesday, Jan. 21.
“You have your
signs and that’s great, it’s no problem. March around with your signs,
but please kindly control the tone,” District Manager Marilyn McAndrews
said at the start of the meeting, begging the protesters not to repeat
their chants of the Jan. 13 public hearing meeting that disrupted the
nursing home the meeting took place in.
“Flushing community members are concerned with
increased congestion, pollution, construction hazards and mass
displacement resulting from new luxury development,” MinKwon Center, the
advocacy group that organized the protest, said in a statement.
The Brownsfield Opportunity Area plan, which
allows for redeveloping the 29-acre stretch of waterfront industrial
property and surrounding land in Downtown Flushing, aims to extend the
district to the waterfront, improve pedestrian flow and vehicular
movement, add affordable housing and improve the water quality of
Flushing Creek. As the meeting progressed, CB 7 members, who hold the
power to make an advisory vote, scheduled for Feb. 10, on the
implementation of the plan, found themselves voicing similar concerns to
“This is a vacant site. Other than U-Haul there
is no activity,” said Ross Moskowitz, the attorney representing the
project owners in response to a question about displacement, “The
increase in this project should not have an impact on the local
businesses ... these are local developers. They are long-established
owners, operators, tenants, residents. They have invested in this
community and will invest in this community.”