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Mayor De Blasio Announces Achievements, Goals For Overhauled Build It Back Program

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City's Build it Back program to help residents recover from Superstorm Sandy has made some major progress, according to Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The mayor was in Broad Channel, Queens on Monday to announce the program's achievements as well as outline future goals.

De Blasio said to date, the Sandy recovery program has seen a total 727 construction starts and 878 reimbursement checks sent out.

That's compared to none earlier this year when de Blasio had unveiled a plan to overhaul Build it Back in an effort to cut through red tape and get help to those who were impacted by Sandy's wrath.

"And we know that this is not abstract. We know that every check means a family is getting back on their feet. Every construction start means a family will get back in their homes," de Blasio said.

According to the de Blasio administration, nearly half of the program's 6,400 active applicants have been made an offer, compared to 451 at the beginning of 2014. Nearly 4,000 have accepted an offer from the program and more than 1,500 have started design, the administration said.

De Blasio spoke outside of the home of Jayme and John Galimi, which was destroyed by Sandy and is being rebuilt and raised through Build it Back.

"It's been a tough two years," John Galimi told 1010 WINS. "Just like everybody else we lost everything."

The Galimi family is expected to return home by Christmas. John Galimi said the reforms to Build it Back made that possible and urged others to enroll.

"I know most people didn't get a lot of insurance, they're devastated...But you gotta enroll and you gotta keep pushing forward," he said.

Broad Channel Civic Association President Dan Mundy credited Housing Recovery Office Director Amy Peterson with helping families like the Galimis to get through the red tape and make the program work for homeowners.

"We brought up issues like how come people can't use the insurance proceeds to survive and pay rent. She said 'that's a great point, we're changing that tomorrow,'" Mundy said of Peterson.

As the two year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, Mayor de Blasio said he hopes to have at least 1,000 construction starts and 1,500 reimbursement checks by the end of the year.

The mayor also announced plans to dramatically expand the program's design and construction capacity. The city is expected to release a new request for proposals on how to best expand capacity in the coming weeks.

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