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Housing Expert Forum: What have we learned from past disaster recovery efforts that could be applied in the way of housing assistance following Hurricane Sandy?

Welcome to the BPC Housing Commission expert forum! This forum is intended to foster interactive and substantive discussion about pressing housing issues. Each month contributors from different parts of the housing sector will be invited to respond to a discussion topic.

Guest posts are shared regularly with Housing Commissioners to help inform their work.

Have a pressing question you’d like us to consider? Please leave it in the comments section. We encourage you and our expert bloggers to add comments, contributing to the national dialogue on solutions for the future of the housing sector.

Expert bloggers are not members of the BPC Housing Commission. Any views expressed on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Housing Commission, its Co-Chairs, or the Bipartisan Policy Center.


QUESTION: What have we learned from past disaster recovery efforts that could be applied in the way of housing assistance following Hurricane Sandy?

Guest_Expert.jpg Building Back Better

By Jonathan T.M. Reckford

Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of Jamaica, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Bahamas before it touched 24 states in the U.S.

Large swaths of New Jersey and New York are still reeling weeks after Sandy reached their shores, and New York City officials estimate that thousands could be left homeless because of its impact. Disasters like Sandy exact an incredible toll on families, communities and, at times, the economy. But, through recovery, such catastrophes can also provide tremendous lessons. In the case of housing, we’ve learned that the success of a recovery effort is perhaps best measured by how quickly homeowners can move forward with repairs and reconstruction of disaster-damaged homes with an eye toward “building back better.”

Read the full post here.


Guest_Expert.jpg Mitigating Risk and Managing Redevelopment

By David A. Smith

America’s aggregate national exposure to disaster risk is rising ? not necessarily due to climate change, but rather because of urbanization, coastal-ization, and land-use economics. Over the last decades, more and more Americans have moved closer and closer to the coasts, and have built more vertical, more dense, more expensive, and more technologically complex structures in low-lying areas vulnerable to natural disasters.

At the same time, inescapable principles of land-use economics dictate that affordable housing is often built last, on land that is the lowest value, least desirable, and most susceptible to flooding or earthquake. Thus hurricane Katrina’s impact on New Orleans was disproportionately concentrated in poor neighborhood and public housing, and in New York City, the power outage rate and duration among NYCHA apartments was roughly three times that of the city as a whole.

Though we do not root for disasters, we should be clear-eyed about mitigating their risk beforehand and managing the redevelopment afterwards.

Read the full post here.


Guest_Expert.jpg Using the Lessons from Hurricane Katrina and Other Disasters to Implement a More Effective Recovery Effort

By Michelle Whetten

As communities in New York and New Jersey come to grips with the scale of the damage from Superstorm Sandy, it is important that response, recovery and rebuilding efforts build off of the lessons learned and best practices gleaned from response to previous disasters. Soon after Hurricane Katrina, Enterprise was in the Gulf Coast to assist with recovery. Seven years later, we continue to work in the region, having invested over $200 million to date towards rebuilding nearly 7,500 affordable homes in stronger, more resilient communities. We’ve learned many lessons along the way, and are applying them to our work in helping Sandy-impacted communities to rebuild.

Read the full post here.


Guest_Expert.jpg A Framework for Long-Term Planning

By Kent Watkins

When I wrote my October blog, I didn’t realize I was partly anticipating this month’s. That previous theme caused me to think about the federal system’s policies that impact housing availability throughout the multi-layered ?marble-cake’ and since I was writing from NYC, where I couldn’t exit because of the hurricane/nor-easter, I seized on a headline illustrating that very thing: the stance of Gov. Christie in working with President Obama on disaster relief and recovery, particularly housing. Now that the presidential election is over, this example of bipartisanship interaction is still apt and needs to be expanded throughout the strategy for housing assistance following Hurricane Sandy.

Read the full post here.


Guest_Expert.jpg The Peril of Blank Checks

By Mark Calabria

My seven years as staff on the Senate Banking Committee was largely spent trying to avert one financial disaster or another. In the middle of those impending financial disasters was at least one natural disaster: Hurricane Katrina. I was tasked with leading the staff efforts on the Republican side of the Committee. Working for Alabama’s senior senator added the urgency of constituent concerns. What follows are some of my reflections from that experience.

Lesson One: have a plan ahead of time and stick to it. While of course there was a framework for disaster assistance before Katrina, as spelled out under the Stafford Act, both the scale of the disaster and heated politics made the existing framework somewhat irrelevant. Instead everyone had a plan. Most of them half-baked. The result was the path of least resistance in Washington: a large blank check.

Read the full post here.


Past Forums

October 2012: What should be the interaction (if any) between state and local policies that impact housing availability and affordability?

September 2012: What statement(s) related to housing?policy, or otherwise?would you want to hear in the presidential debates?

August 2012: What is the role of housing education and counseling in the future housing economy and finance system?

July 2012: Do alternative forms of homeownership, such as shared equity models and rent-to-own programs, present viable alternatives for future homeownership?

June 2012: What are the best options for the millions of single-family homes that may be left behind by Baby Boomers as they age, many of which are in suburban or exurban communities?

May 2012: What can we learn from current or previous efforts to link evidence-based outcomes to policy or program development?

April 2012: What lessons can the U.S. learn from housing programs, policies, or regulatory frameworks in other countries?

March 2012: How can housing policy be responsive to today’s urgent needs and simultaneously address long-term trends?

February 2012: What are some of the key characteristics of a healthy housing system? And how can the success of these features be measured?

January 2012: What should the federal government do to address the inventory of foreclosed properties?

December 2011: What are the most pressing issues in housing policy today?

2012-12-11 00:00:00

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