HUD Employees Support Hurricane Sandy Recovery in New York


>>PEOPLE NEED US THE MOST
WHEN THEY’VE BEEN THROUGH A DISASTER LIKE THIS.
THERE’S NO TIME IN THEIR LIVES WHEN THEY ARE MORE VULNERABLE.
LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES WITHOUT A ROOF OVER
THEIR HEAD, OR ANYTHING TO EAT, AND HOUSING IS ONE OF THE
FUNDAMENTAL THINGS THAT THEY NEED.
AND I KNOW HUD EMPLOYEES, WE RESPOND TO WHAT THE AMERICAN
PEOPLE NEED, AND DISASTERS ARE A TIME WHEN THEY ARE MOST IN
NEED. SO WE HAVE TO RESPOND.
>>THIS SPECIFIC STORM, IT HIT CLOSE THOME.
I AM FROM CONNECTICUT. CONNECTICUT SHORELINES WERE
BATTERED, AND IT REALLY STRUCK A CORD, WATCHING THE NEWS,
WATCHING WHAT PEOPLE WERE GOING THROUGH.
SO I WANT TO HELP.>>MY BACKGROUND ALWAYS LOOKS
FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO HELP, AND AS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR
VOLUNTEERING, THIS IS SOMETHING I COULDN’T PASS UP.
GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, I WANT TO BE HERE.
>>I SAW ON THE NEWS WHAT WAS HAPPENING, AND THE SUFFERING
THAT WAS GOING ON IN THIS AREA.
I FELT THAT I NEEDED TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION TO COME
DOWN, REPRESENT HUD AND TO TRY TO ASSIST IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE.
>>BECAUSE OF THE DENSITY OF THIS REGION, THERE IS A LOT OF
NEEDS, AND WHAT I CAN DO HERE IN THE JOINT FIELD OFFICE
HELPS MAKE EVERYBODY IN THE DISASTER RECOVERY CENTERS
BETTER RESOURCES, THEN I THINK I MIGHT HAVE ACCOMPLISHED SOME
OF MY JOB.>>I’M RESPONSIBLE FOR BOTH
STATES, NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY, AND ALL OF THE HUD
PROGRAMS THAT ARE ADMINISTERED WITHIN OUR REGION, AND THAT
INCLUDES DISASTER RECOVERY.>>BECAUSE OF THE SIZE AND
SCOPE OF THE DISASTER, THE SECRETARY FELT WE NEEDED TO
HAVE SOMEONE HELPING THEM ON THE UNIFIED COORDINATION
GROUP, SO I WAS IMPORTED FOR NEW YORK, AND MY COUNTERPART
APPOINTED FOR NEW JERSEY. AND THEY HAVE A FEDERAL
COORDINATING OFFICER, AND TEN HIS OR HER MOST IMMEDIATE
STAFF AND COORDINATING BODY IS THE UNIFIED COORDINATION
GROUP, AND THE MAJOR ELEMENTS OF THAT PARTICULAR TYPE OF
DISASTER ARE REPRESENTED.>>I’M A CITIZEN APPOINTED BY
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO LEAD FEDERAL EFFORTS
WITH REGARD TO ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE TO SUPPORT THE STATE AND
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AS THEY RESPOND TO A DISASTER, AND IN
THIS PARTICULAR ONE, PROBABLY, YOU KNOW, WHAT WE’RE SEEING IS
ONE OF THE LARGEST DISASTERS IN OUR HISTORY.
CERTAINLY THE LARGEST DISASTER THAT NEW YORK CITY HAS EVER
HAD.>>HUD’S ROLE IN THE RECOVERY
CENTER IS TO PROVIDE RESOURCES.
CURRENTLY WE ARE USING A HOUSING PORTAL THROUGH FEMA TO
LET PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT AVAILABLE APARTMENTS IN THE
AREA, AND BECAUSE OF LIMITED INTERNET ACCESS, OR
SOCIO-ECONOMIC LIMITATIONS WE DO THE HOUSING SEARCHES FOR
THEM. WE PROVIDE RESOURCES TO
EVERYONE THAT COMES IN, WHATEVER THEIR SITUATION IS,
WE RESPOND TO IT.>>I HAD THE RESPONSIBILITY OF
COMING UP WITH A NEEDS ASSESSMENT FOR THE STATE OF
NEW YORK AND ALL OF THE 13 AFFECTED AREAS, AND PART OF
THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT IS TO REACH ALL FACETS OF THE
COMMUNITY, AFFORDABLE HOUSING, LOW INCOME HOUSE, MULTI-FAMILY
HOUSING, SINGLE FAMILY HOUSING.
BASED ON THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT, I HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY
ALONG WITH MY TEAM TO DEVELOP THE PRIORITIES FOR THOSE
AREAS. AND AFTER WE DETERMINE THE
PRIORITIES, WE HAVE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF COMING UP
WITH A LONG-TERM HOUSING STRATEGY FOR THE VARIOUS
COMMUNITIES.>>IF WE LOOK AT A DISASTER
RECOVERY TO GET BACK TO NORMAL AS SORT OF A PIE, YOU KNOW, WE
ALL TAKE CHUNKS OF IT. THE FEMA PROGRAMS, PUBLIC
ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS TAKES A QUARTER OF THE PIE, HAZMAT
MITIGATION MIGHT TAKE 15% OF THE PIE, INSURANCE, YOU KNOW,
PRIVATE INSURANCE TAKES A LARGE SECTION, AND THEN HUD
COMES IN, YOU KNOW, CDBG TO HELP COMMUNITIES REBUILD.
AND THERE’S STILL ALWAYS A GAP, YOU KNOW, THAT WE HAVE TO
FIGURE OUT TOGETHER. IF WE DIDN’T HAVE HUD AT THIS
TABLE, WE REALLY WOULDN’T HAVE THE KIND OF INTELLIGENT
CONVERSATION WE NEED TO HAVE TO FILL THAT GAP, AND MAKE
RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COMMUNITY WHAT THE BEST WAY TO
MOVE FORWARD IT IS. TO HAVE HUD’S PRESENCE AT THE
BEGINNING, TO BE ABLE TO MEET WITH FOLKS EARLY ON IN THE
DISASTER, TO MEET WITH PEOPLE. SEE THE DIRECTION WE WANT TO
GO, HAVING ALL THE RESOURCES, ALL THE TECHNICAL EXPERIENCE
THAT WE HAVE ENGAGING AS MUCH AS WE CAN SO THAT WE CAN GET
AHEAD OF THIS CHALLENGE.>>I SEE HUD’S ROLE AS BEING
PIVOTAL. WE NOT ONLY PROVIDE PROGRAMS
AND FUNDING FOR HOUSING, WE PROVIDE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,
AND SO WE ARE KEY IN ESTABLISHING ANY TYPE OF URBAN
HOUSING PROGRAMS FOR LONG-TERM RECOVERY, AND BUILDING IN THE
FUTURE.>>HOUSING PLAYS AN ELEMENT IN
MOST DISASTERS, WHETHER A THREE HAD BEEN — THREE-COUNTY
FLOOD, WHETHER IT IS A STATEWIDE OR MULTI-STATE
DISASTER LIKE THIS IS. SO I THINK OUR ROLE WILL
CONTINUE TO INCREASE.>>I LOOK FORWARD OVER THE
NEXT FEW YEARS AS WE HELP THIS IT REGION RECOVER TO CONTINUE
TO BUILD ON HUD’S TALENTS OF MAKING COMMUNITIES THAT ARE
VITAL, FULL OF OPPORTUNITY TO BRINGING THAT TO THE NATION’S
DISASTER RESPONSE, AND I THINK YOU’LL SEE HUD STEPPING UP
INTO STRONGER ROLES, BIGGER ROLES IN FUTURE DISASTERS ON
THIS LONG-TERM RECOVERY PIECE.>>WHEN YOU SEE DISASTER
SURVIVORS WHO HAVE LOST EVERYTHING, LIKE YOU SEE ON
TELEVISION, AND IF YOU GOETTE TO WORK IN A DISASTER RECOVERY
CENTER, WHICH SOME OF OUR STAFF HAS DONE, FROM ALL OVER
THE COUNTRY, IF YOU GET TO, YOU KNOW, WORK WITH OUR
PARTNERS IN FEMA AND PROVIDE DISASTER HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES
OR IN MY CASE WORK WITH A TEAM OF 30 OR SO PEOPLE, TO DO ALL
OF THOSE THINGS AND THEN ALSO TO PROVIDE DEPARTMENTAL
VISIBILITY AND ADVICE TO FEDERAL COORDINATING OFFICER,
AS WELL TO HAVE THE SECRETARY HERE, IT IS VERY REWARDING.
>>I CAME INTO IT A LITTLE UNPREPARED, A LITTLE UNSURE
ABOUT WHAT I WAS GOING TO BE WORKING ON, BUT THE BIGGEST
THING IS THAT YOU HAVE TO BE FLEXIBLE.
PEOPLE ARE GOING TO COME TO YOU WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT
HOUSING THAT DON’T PERTAIN TO HUD, AND YOU STILL NEED TO
MEET THEIR NEEDS IN WHATEVER WAY YOU CAN.
>>YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE IT. I RECOMMEND EVERYONE TRY IT.
YOU ARE DEALING WITH A SITUATION THAT IS TOTALLY OUT
OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. YOU ARE GOING TO MEET
WONDERFUL PEOPLE. YOU ARE GOING TO BE IN
SITUATIONS THAT WILL CHALLENGE YOU, BOTH PERSONALLY AND
PROFESSIONALLY.>>AS FEDERAL EMPLOYEES AND AS
PUBLIC SERVANTS, THIS IS OUR CALLING OR ELSE WE WOULD NOT
BE WORKING IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, AND IT IS
ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT THAT WE STEP UP TO THE PLATE AND HELP
OUR CLIENTS IN IT TIMES OF NEED AND TIMES OF DISASTER,
AND OUR HUD EMPLOYEES NATIONWIDE HAVE ALWAYS RISEN
TO THE CHALLENGE OF ASSISTING CLIENTS, WHETHER IT BE THROUGH
OUR WORK IN EVERYDAY PROGRAMS, OR IN DISASTER RELIEF AND
RECOVERY.

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