Coney Island

Treyger wants Dept. of Investigation to monitor Sandy funds

Working with Ulrich to sponsor bipartisan bill

July 17, 2014 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Council members Mark Treyger (seated) and Eric Ulrich want the city’s Department of Investigation brought into the Hurricane Sandy recovery process
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The city should create a monitor at the Department of Investigation to look at how dollars earmarked for Hurricane Sandy recovery are spent, according to two City Council members who sponsored a bipartisan bill aimed at keeping close tabs on expenditures.

Council members Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) and Eric Ulrich (R-Belle Harbor-Breezy Point-Howard Beach) both represent districts that suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The two lawmakers recently introduced legislation that would create a city monitor at the Department of Investigation (DOI) to ensure efficient use of taxpayer dollars in the Sandy recovery process. 

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Their bill would require the DOI commissioner to investigate instances of waste, fraud and abuse. Under the legislation, the DOI would also advise city agencies on practices and policies that would improve the overall effectiveness of disaster recovery related programs. 

Treyger, chairman of the council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency,said the city has an obligation to ensure that Sandy money is being spent wisely.

“Many homeowners, tenants and small business owners are still struggling from the impacts of Superstorm Sandy, so we have an incredible responsibility to get this recovery effort right. With so much money at stake, we have an obligation to prevent fraud and abuse so that storm victims can have full confidence in our ability to help every victim rebuild their homes, businesses and lives. This law is an important step towards making sure that all funding is used in an appropriate and efficient manner and goes directly to the many storm victims who are still waiting for help nearly two years after the storm,” Treyger said.

The bill also calls for the DOI to establish a telephone hotline for New Yorkers to report instances of fraud and mismanagement.

Other provisions of the bill: requiring the DOI commissioner to produce and publish a report of all findings for the mayor, City Council, and appropriate agencies and making the report available to the public on the DOI website. 

The New York Observer reported that the city has so far allotted over $4 billion in funding from the federal government to rebuild homes. The most well known of the city’s recovery programs is Build it Back, a program aimed at rebuilding Sandy-damaged homes.

To date, the city has started construction on 96 homes, and has sent out 316 checks totaling $4.93 million to reimburse homeowners for their own repairs, the Observer reported.

“Whether it’s holding Build it Back more accountable, or making sure the city properly investigates cases of fraud and abuse, I am introducing this bill to ensure that every penny is spent wisely and honestly,” Ulrich said. “This commonsense piece of legislation will increase transparency and I look forward to its passage.”

Since his election last year, Treyger has been visible in the Coney Island end of his council district, making frequent appearances to talk to residents about their struggles to rebuild their homes and their lives.

As the Brooklyn Eagle reported in April, Treyger led Amy Peterson, director of the city’s Housing Recovery Office, on an inspection tour of Coney Island and Seagate so she could see first-hand the rebuilding efforts going on.

The two looked at damaged buildings and spoke to neighborhood residents.

Residents told Peterson that they are still trying to get back into their damaged homes and are awaiting reimbursement from the government after using personal savings to rebuild. Many residents raided their life savings to rebuild their houses, Treyger said.

“It was important for me to bring Director Peterson to residents who are still trying to rebuild their homes and lives so that she could hear their frustrations and concerns firsthand,” he said at the time.


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