By Jill Colvin
March 29, 2014
Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of three new staffers who will lead his Sandy recovery and rebuilding team.
Bill Goldstein will serve as senior advisor for recovery, resiliency and infrastructure, Amy Peterson will be the new director of the Housing Recovery Office and Daniel Zarrilli will lead the new Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
The appointments were announced this afternoon at a press conference with Senator Chuck Schumer on Rockaway Beach Boulevard in Queens.
The pair also announced what they described as “significant” changes to the rebuilding process, including the reallocation of $100 million to fund the reconstruction of homes that were destroyed during the storm.
Read the city’s full release below:
MAYOR DE BLASIO, STANDING WITH SEN. SCHUMER, APPOINTS SANDY RECOVERY AND REBUILDING LEADERSHIP TEAM, ANNOUNCES MAJOR CHANGES TO REBUILDING PROCESS TO SPEED FUNDS TO HOMEOWNERS AND CUT RED TAPE
City will reallocate $100 million to fund rebuilding of all destroyed homes; marks first checks delivered to homeowners, start of construction, and additional Build It Back staffing and cutting of red tape
Standing with Sen. Schumer, architect of Sandy relief bill, Mayor taps Bill Goldstein to serve as Senior Advisor for Recovery, Resiliency, and Infrastructure; Amy Peterson appointed Director of Housing Recovery Office; Daniel Zarrilli appointed Director of new Office of Recovery and Resiliency
NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio, standing with Senator Charles Schumer, the architect of the Sandy relief bill, today appointed a new senior leadership team to oversee and execute the city’s Superstorm Sandy recovery and rebuilding efforts, and announced new plans to improve much-needed relief delivery to those recovering from the devastating impact of Sandy. These appointments and policy announcements accompany major improvements to Build It Back and new progress on recovery and rebuilding efforts over the past three months, as this week, critical funds began to flow to New Yorkers in need, and home repair construction kicked off.
Mayor de Blasio was joined by Senator Schumer and other key elected and community leaders.
Bill Goldstein will serve as Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Recovery, Resiliency, and Infrastructure, Amy Peterson will serve as Director of the Housing Recovery Office, and Daniel Zarrilli will serve as Director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency.
In his new capacity, Goldstein will serve as City Hall’s lead on the planning and execution of New York City’s broader infrastructure efforts, including oversight of the newly-created Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), which will provide overall coordination of the city’s entire federally-funded rebuilding and resiliency efforts. Goldstein, formerly the Executive Vice President at MTA Capital Construction, will report to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris. Daniel Zarrilli, an architect of the city’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) plan, will lead the new Office of Recovery and Resiliency and will report to Goldstein.
As the Director of the Housing Recovery Office (HRO), Peterson, an engineer who worked on the city’s recovery following 9/11, will also report to Goldstein. Peterson has extensive experience in construction disaster recovery; her priorities will also include matching low-income New Yorkers with rebuilding jobs.
“Since Day One, my administration has prioritized the fast and efficient delivery of relief to affected families, and now we begin to see results,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Construction has started, the first checks are on the way, and we are making immediate policy and staff changes to further expedite and streamline the process – so that New Yorkers get the help they need now. I know that Bill Goldstein, Amy Peterson and Daniel Zarrilli have the experience to get families critical relief and ensure a stronger and more resilient New York.”
Mayor de Blasio also announced the implementation of structural changes to streamline the Build It Back process and spur much-needed progress on reconstruction and reimbursements. Under the initiatives unveiled today, the city will:
- Reallocate $100 million previously appropriated for HUD – CDBG funds to ensure every home destroyed by Superstorm Sandy is rebuilt, regardless of an applicant’s income or current program prioritization.
- Immediately boost HRO staff by 35 percent, to about 105 staff members, by transferring skilled personnel from other agencies into HRO.
- Accelerate the design process for home repairs and rebuilds by moving design consultation to immediately after an offer is given to a homeowner.
- Make it easier for homeowners who have received prior benefits to engage with Build It Back and fully understand their options. Homeowners will be able to fully proceed through the design process before needing to make transfer payments.
- Allow homeowners to set aside their transfer payments for temporary relocation expenses if they are displaced during construction.
- Eliminate permit and procedural bottlenecks that are slowing repairs and rebuilds; for example, clearing outstanding DOB permits that have prevented some Sandy rebuilds and repairs from moving forward.
- Publish an updated strategy with diagnostic and additional specific recommendations to improve Sandy recovery in two weeks – on April 11.
The improvements announced today have already allowed the city to make meaningful strides in serving Build It Back clients.
Since January, the administration has transformed Build It Back efforts to better serve applicants, and results include: completing more than 7,000 of nearly 10,000 completed damage assessments; increasing by six-fold the number of completed option review meetings (from approximately 500 to nearly 3,000), constituting more than $275 million of the $300 million in offers made; and completing calls to 5,000 unresponsive applicants to yield an additional 1,200 applicants interested in program re-entry.
“We need to effectively coordinate our citywide efforts toward resiliency. It is vital for the city’s future that our infrastructure be able to meet the challenges of future severe weather events,” said Bill Goldstein, incoming Senior Advisor to the Mayor for Recovery, Resiliency, and Infrastructure.
“Helping these communities recover and rebuild is critical. We are working together to ensure that the process is streamlined and that the funds get out the door and into the communities that need them,” said Amy Peterson, incoming Director of the Housing Recovery Office.
“New York City has seen the devastation caused by Sandy and recognized the threats posed by climate change,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “To address these threats and strengthen our neighborhoods, we are more committed than ever to building a stronger, more resilient New York.”
“The first priority of the Sandy relief bill was to compensate storm victims for damage. Now, finally, the necessary steps are being taken for all who lost their houses. With the right people and right policies now in place, I believe this coming year will be a better one for those who are still struggling with the aftermath of the storm – we will see houses rebuilt and homeowners repaid. Today’s announcement is a down payment, and I look forward to this administration taking additional steps to ensure Sandy victims who went into their pockets to pay for repairs themselves will be quickly made whole. The de Blasio administration deserves major credit for tackling this problem quickly and making necessary changes to a program that wasn’t working well at all,” said Senator Charles Schumer.
“I’m proud to join Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer and my Council colleagues to announce critical improvements to streamline the city’s Build It Back program,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “These enhancements will strengthen the city’s recovery efforts and ensure New Yorkers have the resources they need to rebuild their homes quickly. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Senator Schumer for their work and look forward to working with Bill Goldstein, Amy Peterson and Dan Zarrilli as we continue to support relief efforts for New Yorkers devastated by Sandy.”
“We have much work to do. We have so much time to make up. I am appreciative of the immediate and personal outreach to me by Ms. Peterson, and I am looking forward to meeting her on Staten Island this week, and working with her to finally help the people of this borough. None of us can go back and fix things done and not done during the last 17 months. But we can act with a sense of urgency and get people the help they need as quickly as possible. The fact that the de Blasio administration is reallocating $100 million to ensure every home destroyed by Superstorm Sandy is rebuilt, regardless of an applicant’s income or current program prioritization, is a very good first step. There is much more work to do, and I am committed to working with this administration to get things done and getting things right,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.
“This significant announcement made by Mayor de Blasio recognizes the urgency of Sandy recovery and is a great first step to make sure this recovery effort expeditiously moves forward on behalf of the many New Yorkers still struggling to rebuild their lives. I am pleased that Mayor de Blasio has swiftly acted in a few short months to bring on people with the skills needed to oversee the many various parts of this complicated and urgent recovery process. The mayor is showing great leadership by putting together a skilled team of recovery leaders and requiring better coordination between all levels of government from the federal to the local level. My thanks as well to Speaker Mark-Viverito and Senator Schumer for recognizing that there is still much work to be done. Now that we have the people in place, we can immediately begin to work with all stakeholders to ensure that the recovery is felt on the ground by residents in impacted communities around the city,” said City Councilman Mark Treyger.
“We are glad that Mayor de Blasio has begun to address both the immediate and long-term needs of Sandy survivors, particularly those in low-income communities. City Hall’s new Sandy-focused leadership and plans for accelerating the Build It Back program are major steps forward. With billions in federal disaster recovery funds to invest over the next four years, the city will have the resources to ensure that Sandy rebuilding reduces inequality instead of perpetuating it. Investments in truly affordable housing, higher-wage jobs, and greater economic opportunities should leave no Sandy survivors behind,” said Nathalie Alegre, Coordinator of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, a large and diverse citywide coalition representing many thousands of Sandy survivors.
“After 17 months of ministering to families whose lives and homes were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, we’re enthusiastic about these urgently needed improvements to the city’s recovery strategy. Thousands of families in our communities have been suffering unnecessarily, awaiting help from the city to rebuild their homes and their lives. We fully support Mayor de Blasio’s commitment today to address not only the ongoing immediate crisis, but also create long-term resiliency by reducing racial and economic inequality through the Sandy rebuild. Clergy and faith leaders with Faith in New York look forward to working with Amy Peterson and Bill Goldstein to fulfill Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to rebuild lives, and look forward to Mayor de Blasio’s announcement in two weeks about how he intends to prioritize people by creating good local jobs for vulnerable New Yorkers to rebuild their communities,” said Bishop James I. Clark Jr, Co-Chair, Faith in New York.
To read the full article, visit New York Observer.