Today’s guest blogger is Marion Mollegen McFadden, HUD’s Deputy Assistant General Counsel for Community Development.
As a HUD lawyer who provides legal counsel for disaster recovery, I never question whether the work I do matters. For the past decade, one of the most meaningful projects I’ve worked on is the recovery of Lower Manhattan from the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
My family lost a family friend on that horrible day. Fred Kelley was warm, fun-loving, and committed person who cared for everyone around him. I believe that if Fred survived, he would have worked tirelessly to assist with the recovery of Lower Manhattan.
This personal connection moved me to do everything I could to support the recovery. Almost immediately after 9/11, my co-workers and I began preparing for the receipt and distribution of federal funds to help with the recovery efforts. Congress and the President ultimately made nearly $3.5 billion available to the State of New York through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to assist damaged properties and businesses and for economic revitalization.
HUD’s role after a disaster is not to tell communities how to rebuild. Instead, we use our expertise to enable a city or state that has suffered a catastrophe to define what it wants to achieve and strategize ways to help accomplish this. A key priority for New York was creating a place to memorialize the events of September 11. New Yorkers believed Lower Manhattan should be a model urban center, offering sustainable residential, retail, commercial, and recreational opportunities. This reconstruction would affirm New York’s and America’s resiliency, rejecting the destructive message of the attackers and setting an example for the world.
After ten years, Lower Manhattan is a vibrant place to work and live. All of us at the federal, state and local level have worked together over the past decade to create a new, better, more sustainable and resilient NY. We did not forget what happened or who we lost. For ten years, we’ve remained committed to bringing the National September 11th Memorial and Museum into being and we will keep working until the Memorial and Museum are open, the revitalization projects are complete, the taxpayers’ funds are accounted for, and the job is done.