The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article last week, examining the different and competing visions of city and state administrators when it comes to using the billions of dollars received for Superstorm Sandy recovery.
In short, the city wants to use it for long-term resiliency initiatives. The state wants to see the money funneled to homeowners seeking relief.
Here’s the nut of it:
More than a year after superstorm Sandy, the mounting frustration illustrates a broader dilemma for policy makers in New York City and Albany: Is it better to invest in pricey measures that protect the many or to help those hardest hit immediately?
The question is at the heart of different approaches taken by the city and state in how they distribute federal funds they received to help the region recover.
The city has decided to spend about $300 million of the nearly $1.8 billion it received in the first round on what is known as resiliency, or efforts to protect against future storms. The state, by contrast, has set aside just $30 million of the $1.7 billion it received on resiliency, including increasing public awareness about safe rebuilding and helping places like hospitals and nursing homes create energy backup systems.
About $650 million of the first round of federal funding the city received is being spent on housing recovery, while the state is spending about $840 million on far fewer applicants.
As it stands now, the city has only allocated enough funds to handle approximately 4,000 of the 26,000 applicants to the Build it Back program, and is prioritizing based on financial need. The program will receive another chunk of funds soon, a representative for Mayor Bloomberg said.
What do you think? Should the city have prioritized direct assistance to victims at the cost of long-term planning? Or is it better to get the big projects underway while the political will still exists?