With thousands of people wait list for recovery funds, homeowners struggling to pay for repairs that were not covered and only six homes rebuilt, the need for oversight and accountability is not only necessary but important. The challenge is addressing the various issues of the different communities that were affected by Sandy.
Enter Comptroller Scott Stringer. The Comptroller is having Sandy Oversight hearings in communities across affected areas. The town halls are important because they will address every agency that has had a role in receiving Sandy funds. Its an audit whose goal is to address the issue of where the money went and to ensure all the funds were properly appropriated.
The Comptroller promises these hearings will not be an exercise in futility, but about real accountability. Prior to this town hall, he has held key meetings with community stakeholders to ensure his office is connected into the issues of primary concern and to those directly affected by these issue. The upcoming meeting on May 20, will look to address the issues of residents from the East End of the Rockaway Peninsula.
The population of East Rockaway represents the heaviest portion of the Peninsula’s population. Their post Sandy issues vary widely from those on the West End of the island. Many of the East End residents are not home owners but renters. As such, the failings of the Build it Back program may not be a priority. Food health and employment, however, have been major issues for the area Post Sandy.
“We have been working the Comptroller’s office to ensure they are knowledgeable about key issues pertaining to Rockaway residents in the Sandy Recovery process. That includes everything from home repairs, our food supply, health issues, employment and business opportunities,” said Kevin Alexander President of the Rockaway Development and Revitalization Corporation.
As acute as the issues may be, there is a concern that residents are discouraged with the lack of recovery efforts and will not come out. Additionally, there is an undocumented population in the East End that may believe government is not working for them, preventing a higher turnout.
However, it is important that residents come out. The Comptroller will be bringing Deputy Comptrollers from the contracts, audits, public affairs and diversity divisions. They will be taking video testimony, transcribing testimony and following up with individuals on specifics. These testimonies are key to enforcing accountability measures from government leadership.
“I know the community may be disenchanted but it is important that residents of East Rockaway, as well as other affected areas, know they are a critical part of the effort to ensure accountability,” said Comptroller Scott Stringer. "We are ready to roll our sleeves up and get the work done,” he said.
This is the first time an audit regarding Sandy recovery is being taken by anyone in authority.
The town hall is Tuesday, May 20th at the Mount Carmel Baptist Church 348 Beach 71st Street. Doors open at 6:30PM.