Sandy: The behemoth federal project to rebuild the hard-hit East Coast

On Wednesday, officials and researchers are expected to convene in Belle Haven, the neighborhood in Prince George’s County where the area hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 is located. Those officials, researchers, and community leaders will be hearing testimony about the improvements that have been made in the community.

The federal Build Back Better plan is, after all, a community partnership. It’s called the Build Back Better plan because the federal government has spent the last year and a half funding to help restore Storm Sandy damage in the Belvedere, Villa Rica, East Greenbelt, Lanham, Roosevelt Heights, Goose Creek, Manasota, and Washington areas. It’s a federal effort to rebuild the communities hit by Sandy.

The grants are provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), and are part of $60 billion pledged by the federal government to help communities recover from Superstorm Sandy. Congress included some specific targets: one-hundredth of one percent to reduce flood risk and one-third of a percent for economic activity. The majority of the grants has gone to those hardest hit by Sandy.

One policy that has not made its way to the program – and is not being proposed by the bill – is the initiative created by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to build 100 new public housing developments in New York. The mayor reasoned that with high-rise high rise, the federally subsidized housing could be brought back more quickly and eventually to the same condition as the public housing built in New York in the 1960s. Bloomberg is widely credited with the inception of the hurricane housing programs that are now associated with the campaign.

Bloomberg and others have taken the argument further by outlining the strategic location of the apartment buildings, and running against a main aim of the ARRA program – to give choice to the American taxpayer, in addition to the immediate financial help.

Bellevue would not be a Bloomberg public housing development, but would be constructed a stone’s throw from the Greenbelt Post Office where millions of federal dollars have gone to rebuilt. The current building is more than 50 years old, and no longer safe. So in addition to the reopening of the Greenbelt Post Office, when, ideally, a new shell of a building is constructed, the city would also rebuild the Bellevue public housing neighborhood.

With Bellevue, the builders would be working in a central location and would ideally be close to the Montgomery Avenue station on Metro.

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