The devastation from superstorm Sandy is not a memory -- there is still much to repair and even more to improve in our line of defense at the shoreline. That's why Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan shouldn't divert $1 billion of our hard-won federal funding to other regions.
There are several distribution streams in the $60 billion disaster assistance package approved by Congress to get the region back on its feet after the 2012 storm. In the next two weeks, Donovan is expected to decide whether to siphon the $1 billion from a $3.6 billion pot in HUD's Community Development Block Grant program. The relief aid was designed by Sen. Charles Schumer and the area's Congressional delegation to be flexible in meeting long-term goals of hardening our infrastructure. There are plenty of ways we can put it to good use. Here's what those dollars can fund:
Many homeowners in New York City, especially in the Rockaways, have yet to get a dime to rebuild, they should be a priority. Some of the money can be put toward an ocean outflow pipe for the Bay Park sewage treatment plant to reduce nitrogen levels in South Shore bays. Some of that billion can fund projects chosen from HUD's Rebuild by Design competition as well as the state's New York Rising Community Reconstruction initiative.
Donovan has used $1 billion of Sandy funding to help Colorado recover from flooding and for Missouri to better prepare for tornadoes. He relied on a clause House Republicans inserted into the Sandy legislation that said resiliency projects across the country could be eligible for HUD funding. But eligible doesn't mean it's required.
There are critical, unmet needs in our region and fulfilling them should be Donovan's priority.
This is a zero-sum game we don't deserve to lose.