CDBG-DR funds serve as a lifeline to survivors of catastrophic events. These programs have measurably improved the quality of life for so many impacted citizens, particularly our most vulnerable residents. Following the wake of the hurricanes that have hit both Texas and Florida, CDBG-DR programs are more crucial than ever, working with disaster relief and aiding people in need of housing, infrastructure, and economic development.
The challenge for policymakers in Texas and Florida is to balance immediate recovery with long-term resilience. This hurricane season has taken out millions of peoples’ power and many have lost their homes. It has ruined many economies, and while it’s important to find that instantaneous relief, it’s also necessary to think about the future.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit Toms River, New Jersey, wrecking the state’s budget and property values. CDBG funds were Mayor Thomas Kelaher’s saving grace, helping fix the economy without having to increase taxes. CDBG will be a major key in the recovery of places hit by the recent hurricanes. President Trump recently signed a bill that would give communities affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey $7.4 billion in grants to aid in long-term disaster recovery.
Building our communities back the way we used to may be quick, but is it wise? As an industry, we must offer solutions that prioritize the long-term safety of our neighbors and guard the interests of taxpayers to invest in assets that will survive the next event. A Wall Street Journal article recently stated that, “The funds can also be used to ward off future devastation. After Hurricane Ike shut down Galveston’s water treatment plant for more than a week in 2008, Texas used block grant funds to build a new facility able to withstand future storms.” Hurricanes Harvey and Irma destroyed many homes and businesses. While it’s important to help build back those homes and businesses that were affected by the storms, it’s also important to help prevent further destruction in the long run.
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