New York City homeowners, landlords and tenants hit hard by Superstorm Sandy will soon be able to tap into a new city program that includes grants and loans for repairing Sandy-damaged homes. The program, dubbed "Build it Back," builds on the city's free Rapid Repairs initiative that helped more than 20,000 families return to their homes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a June 3 announcement. The Build it Back initiative is funded with $648 million of the city's $1.77 billion first installment of federal disaster recovery assistance.

Photo By Esther D'Amico
Still Standing: Many Sandy-damaged homes like these -- which also narrowly escaped a fire that swept through a portion of Breezy Point, Queens -- are still in need of repair.

"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.

For those who qualify, the program's options cover financial assistance for repairing or rebuilding their homes; reimbursement for certain out-of-pocket repairs; or the sale of their homes to the city, which may opt to redevelop the properties.

Under the program, professionals will assess the damage to determine the costs of repairs or rebuilding, including whether the homes should be elevated. The city says that, starting next month, registered users of the program will be called by a Housing Recovery Specialist from the city who will help them review their options.