Kathryn Mallon, the head of the city’s Build it Back program, announced her resignation from the problem-ridden initiative last week, and her official departure on Friday, Feb. 28 is being lamented by Queens residents and elected officials.
“Kathryn Mallon was dealt a pretty crappy hand,” said Broad Channel Civic Association President Dan Mundy, Jr. “By the time she got there in October, it was an absolute disaster. Now, her leaving the program is a big loss. She’s a workaholic. She was trying to put out fires left and right.”
Build it Back, which aims to use hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding to help Sandy victims rebuild homes devastated by the hurricane in October 2012, has landed vehement criticism from civic leaders and elected officials alike, who have said the program has been strangled by red tape. Of the more than 26,000 people who have applied to the Build it Back program, not one of them has seen construction start on their property.
Mallon did not make an official statement about her resignation.
“I found her to be very competent, very honest, and having very good intentions,” Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said. “She was dealing with a massive federal bureaucracy like no other we’ve had to deal with before.”
State Sen. Joe Addabo Jr. also praised the Build it Back leader.
“Kathryn was most helpful, most knowledgeable with Build it Back,” he said.
Mundy also noted that Mallon had led another one beleaguered initiative, the Rapid Repair program, and nursed it back to health.
Mallon is the second high-level Hurricane Sandy recovery official to announce their resignation from a city program this month. The former director of housing recovery operations for the mayor’s office, Brad Gair, also departed in February, leaving de Blasio’s administration for a job at New York University.
By Anna Gustafson