Donovan, HUD Regional Administrator Patton Tour Staten Island Sandy Recovery and Resiliency Investments
Staten Island, NY—September 21, 2017….Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Region II Administrator Lynne Patton today reviewed progress at the Living Breakwaters resiliency project and at a Sandy-damaged home undergoing elevation through the Build it Back program. Both initiatives are HUD-funded. Regional Administrator Patton met with Congressman Donovan shortly after assuming command at HUD Region II, and she accepted Congressman Donovan’s invitation to spend a day in the field reviewing HUD’s post-Sandy projects.
Congressman Donovan said, “I’m glad Regional Administrator Patton accepted my invitation to spend a day on Staten Island. Her commitment to personally visiting projects critical to Staten Island’s future emphasizes her focus and determination at the helm of HUD’s regional office. It’s no secret that New York City’s recovery from Superstorm Sandy was too slow, too bureaucratic, and too expensive. There’s plenty of blame to go around, including how Congress wrote the Sandy aid bill and how the City implemented it, and I hope we can learn from our mistakes. I’m confident Regional Administrator Patton will do a fantastic job, and I look forward to a productive and collaborative relationship.”
Regional Administrator Patton said, “The residents of Staten Island are not only a priority to me, but also to both HUD and this Administration. I have countless personal friends who reside in this great borough and am honored to forge newfound relationships with Staten Island leadership, including Congressman Donovan, Senator Diane Savino, Borough President James Oddo, Assemblyman Ron Castorina, Councilpersons Debi Rose, Joe Borelli and Steven Matteo and more. I am confident that Staten Island holds a special place in the hearts of all New Yorkers who witnessed firsthand this borough’s heartache, perseverance and determination to overcome both the physical and emotional damage brought upon by Superstorm Sandy and I am incredibly proud of the critical role that HUD is playing in their recovery. For as long as I am the Regional Administrator, Staten Island will always receive the attention and continued assistance it needs both in the disaster and affordable housing space.”
Assemblyman Ron Castorina said, “Regional Administrator Patton's visit to Staten Island is confirmation that the Trump administration is serious about improving our local infrastructure, and about making sure that our community is prepared for the future, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. The multi-faceted approach of the Living Breakwaters project including risk reduction, ecological enhancement and social resiliency takes into account our safety, environment and community. I applaud Regional Administrator Patton and the Trump administration for their attention to our community.”
“Thank you to Congressman Donovan and Regional Administrator Patton for taking the time to tour the Park Hill Apartments today with my staff and community members. After numerous constituent complaints were filed regarding the maintenance of these buildings, I wanted to help rectify some of these issues by working together with the Congressman, HUD, local leaders, and tenants,” said Senator Diane Savino. “The residents of Park Hill deserve safe and habitable living conditions. I know that this is a step in the right direction to mediate some of the concerns that many have expressed throughout the years. I will continue to advocate for the improvements that will better the lives of our friends in Park Hill.”
Donovan and Patton visited a Build it Back elevation in progress with homeowner Lori Widlund and Build it Back Director Amy Peterson. Ms. Widlund explained the challenges and complications she’s faced during her years-long process to repair and elevate her home, but expressed optimism for a safer and more resilient future. Because of the elevation, Ms. Widlund’s home will face drastically reduced flood risk as well as lower flood insurance premiums. Donovan’s office has worked with hundreds of Staten Islanders trying to navigate the Build it Back process, and continues to help folks like Ms. Widlund reach an end to their recovery. Most Build it Back elevations on Staten Island have been completed – 86 percent – with the rest slated for completion.
“There's no question that Staten Island has been a challenging recovery process. The Build It Back program mandates tough new regulatory compliance with both federal and city building codes – often for housing stock that wasn't up to code prior to Sandy. Unfortunately, this has contributed to some delay and frustration, however, by doing so, it's clear that this program is not only designed to Build It Back, but Build it Better,” said RA Patton.
On Staten Island’s south shore, Donovan and Patton toured the future site of New York State’s HUD-funded Living Breakwaters resiliency project together with Assemblyman Ron Castorina. HUD’s “Rebuild by Design” resiliency competition selected Living Breakwaters for a $60-million investment. The project will reduce flood risk – including the destructive capacity of waves – through offshore breakwaters designed to reduce wave action while enhancing the marine ecology and habitat. Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, led the site visit and updated Donovan and Patton on the project’s progress.
Donovan and Patton also reviewed conditions at Park Hill Apartments in response to tenant complaints and a request from New York State Senator Diane Savino. The development primarily consists of Section 8 housing, and building managers have a responsibility to properly maintain the premises. Patton’s team committed to reviewing the complaints to determine whether any further action is warranted.
RA Patton continued, “Since my inception, I have vowed to hold landlords who receive federal subsidies accountable for providing safe and sanitary conditions, not only on behalf of their residents, but also on behalf of the American taxpayer. The misappropriation of HUD monies will no longer be tolerated in Region II. Congressman Donovan stands lockstep with me in this endeavor.”