Here’s the lead paragraph from Monday’s Department of Housing and Urban Development news release:
President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, chaired by Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, today released a rebuilding strategy to serve as a model for communities across the nation facing greater risks from extreme weather and to continue helping the Sandy-affected region rebuild. The Rebuilding Strategy contains 69 policy recommendations, many of which have already been adopted, that will help homeowners stay in and repair their homes, strengthen small businesses and revitalize local economies and ensure entire communities are better able to withstand and recover from future storms.
Here’s a link to the full report.
Excellent overview of impact and consequences. The sixty-nine recommendations are all reasonable and, if even partially implemented, will advance resilience and readiness.
As my once teen-aged son commented, “When you open with praise is when I really get nervous.”
This is very much a government-to-government document. How do various federal agencies coordinate? How do federal, state, and local jurisdictions coordinate or at least avoid conflict? The interagency and intergovernmental challenges are real. This document should help with these issues. Every recommendation is doable and assigned out for doing.
But if a broader mandate was intended, it has certainly gotten lost.
One example from a section giving priority to “restore and strengthen homes, providing families with safe, affordable housing options.”
34. RECOMMENDATION: Bring together the Housing RSF and Emergency Support Function six partner agencies to review and integrate existing housing plans, as well as existing statutes, regulations, and policies for potential changes (statutory, regulatory or policy) to improve the delivery of housing solutions for future disasters.
Might it also be a good idea to bring together major builders and managers of housing?
Someone reading the Task Force Report might be excused for thinking the private sector had been totally obliterated by Hurricane Sandy and has not returned. Housing is not the only place where the absence of private players is remarkable.
Toward the end of the report I thought, aha here we go most of the reach-out to the private sector has been consolidated under a single title. There is a section called, “Facilitate Opportunities for Community and Non-Profit Engagement in Capacity Building and Actively Engage Philanthropy to Fill Capacity Gaps.” This tees-up precisely one recommendation:
61. RECOMMENDATION: Facilitate and expand opportunities for philanthropic and non-profit engagement in recovery, including opportunities for organizations that work with vulnerable populations. The CPCB RSFs in New York and New Jersey should actively support funder collaboratives that provide grants to nonprofits working in coordination with government. This should include encouragement of sub-grants to NGOs that would assist in accomplishing the Federal outreach requirements, including those specific to vulnerable populations to ensure they are included in the recovery planning process.
To be fair there are a couple of recommendations that seem to involve elements of the community beyond the government. Further, there is evidence the Task Force actively reached out to consult with a broader cross-section… though contact with the commercial sector is not explicit. There are other initiatives that have featured robust private-public engagement in conceiving post-Sandy priorities.
Still, a Stalinist apparatchik awaking from a seventy year nap might read the Task Force report and find good cause to believe central planning had also been adopted by the United States.
Precisely because centralized planning is not our reality, some greater attention to the private — individual, family, neighborhood, not-for-profit, and commercial — domain would have strengthened what is a helpful report.