Almost two years after Hurricane Sandy clobbered NYC, the city has finally made some serious headway into rebuilding the homes that were badly damaged by the storm. Mayor de Blasio announced this morning that the city's "Build It Back" program, which had become mired in a bureaucratic slog under former mayor Bloomberg, has now approved construction for 535 homes. When the de Blasio administration took over the program back in January, Build it Back had approved construction for zero homes.

“It was simply unacceptable that not a single homeowner had gotten relief as of the beginning of this year,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “We committed to putting Build it Back back on track, and that’s exactly what we’ve done, exceeding our Labor Day goals with 535 construction starts and 543 reimbursement checks. But we know there’s much more work ahead—and we’re committed to continuing to speed up recovery so that every homeowner gets the relief they need.”

543 reimbursement checks are going to homeowners who took matters into their own hands and begun repairing their homes before the city approved the construction. The money for the program comes from a $1.8 billion federal grant from HUD that aimed to help New York City recover from Sandy.

Mayor Bloomberg ambitiously announced the Build It Back program in June of 2013, with the goal of assisting distressed residents who would need long-term assistance fixing their home. "Whether it’s personal assistance in the rebuilding process or reimbursements for completed repairs, this program will provide a new infusion of support to help families, neighborhoods and businesses come back stronger and more resilient than ever before," Bloomberg said at the time.

But a combination of administrative boondoggles, mission fatigue and disinterest from a lame duck mayor—compounded by miscommunication over what types of construction projects would be covered by the program—left residents without a single dollar issued from the grant by the time de Blasio took office.

In reinvigorating the languishing program, de Blasio renegotiated the contracts for the case management that had been outsourced to private companies, saving the city $61 million dollars (which can now be given to homeowners) and gave senior city officials more oversight over the program. Over 1,200 additional homeowners have begun designing construction projects for their home since January, with the city continuing to ramp up construction efforts over the next few months.