Category Archives: Shaun Donovan

Rebuild By Design (Updated x 2)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Chuck Schumer and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced four winning designs in the “Rebuild by Design” program administered by HUD and the federal Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task force.  Three of the selections are for projects in New York City, with the fourth a project in Nassau County.  The New York City projects are (1) “The Big U”, a series of berms and bridges around lower Manhattan, (2) “Living Breakwaters”, a series of breakwaters off the south shore of Staten Island, and (3) “Lifelines”, to provide flood protection systems for Hunts Point, the site of a major food market that functions as a hub of the region’s food supply chain.

Their press conference included remarks by each of the four government officials as well as an on topic Q&A.

Off-Topic Q&A:

Afterwards, Mayor de Blasio separately answered off topic questions.  He began with a statement concerning the stabbing of two young children in Brooklyn and then answers questions concerning that incident, the proposed state law to allow municipalities to further raise the minimum wage and whether he would pursue a $13 minimum wage for New York City, how that proposed law fits into the political deal that gave Governor Cuomo the Work Families Party ballot line, a young boy hit and killed today by a car and how Vision Zero addresses that location and the large number of shootings in the City this past weekend.  Here is the Mayor’s full off topic Q&A, which began with some press dissatisfaction:

Update – Opening Yucks:

The three elected officials began with a couple of yucks:

Update #2 – On Topic Q&A:

The Mayor, Governor, Senator and Secretary answered several on topic questions, including why the approved projects do not include any in Brooklyn and Queens and whether actions taken by “other jurisdictions” are sufficient, when will the resiliency efforts be complete and when will the majority of Build It Back homes be completed, what complexities Secretary Donovan saw when his Department approved the Build It Back program and why is New York City slower than Nassau and Suffolk Counties to deliver post-Sandy assistance to homeowners.  Here is their full on topic Q&A:

Schumer & Donovan Discuss Flood Insurance and Biggert-Waters

Today I had the opportunity to talk with Senator Chuck Schumer and Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, about the outlook for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and particularly whether they foresee any changes or modifications to the program as currently in effect under the Biggert-Waters Act.  (The primary purpose of their press conference, which also included Rep. Carolyn Maloney,  was to announce additional mortgage forbearance and modification programs for homeowners affected by Sandy.)

The NFIP has been underpriced for many years and, after the large covered losses caused by Hurricane Katrina, it had a program deficit of more than $17 billion in early 2011.  The deficit was addressed in the Biggert-Waters Act, which significantly modified the program.  As The Wave newspaper of Rockaway has been extensively examining (see here and here), those changes in the NFIP, in combination with soon-to-be adopted new FEMA flood maps, will produce dramatically higher flood insurance rates and require many homeowners to purchase flood insurance for the first time.  Such increased insurance rates and coverage requirements will likely have a deep long-term impact on Sandy-damaged areas such as Rockaway.

Senator Schumer accurately pointed out that the increases are to be phased-in over several years.  That’s helpful to homeowners, of course, but it only delays the underlying long term economics; previously underpriced insurance is being brought to actuarial rates and large subsidies are being reduced or eliminated.  Secretary Donovan said that it is the Obama administration’s position that Congress needs to act to “add … a long-term affordability provision” for “lower income and more vulnerable homeowners” to the NFIP.  Any such provisions have yet to be detailed and are, at best, uncertain to occur.  Secretary Donovan also spoke about the importance accurately and promptly preparing the new flood maps.  Senator Schumer added that “we are going to have to examine” affordability.

Here’s the full clip of Senator Schumer and Secretary Donovan discussing the NFIP and Biggert-Waters.  Watch what they had to say.