The NY Rising Community Reconstruction (NYRCR) Program, announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in April of 2013, is a more than $700 million planning and project implementation process established to provide rebuilding and resiliency assistance to communities severely damaged by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, Superstorm Sandy, and the summer floods of 2013 in New York State. Drawing on lessons learned from past recovery efforts, the NYRCR Program is a unique combination of bottom-up community participation and State-provided technical expertise. This powerful combination recognizes not only that community members are best positioned to assess the needs and opportunities of the places where they live and work, but also that decisions are best made when they are grounded in rigorous analysis and informed by the latest innovative solutions. The Community Reconstruction Program is part of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR).
The goal of the NYRCR Program is to empower the State’s most impacted communities to rebuild in ways that will mitigate against future risks and build increased resilience.
Governor Cuomo announced the NYRCR Program in April 2013 (originally called the Community Reconstruction Zone, or CRZ, Program), and the NYRCR Program launched in July 2013.
One hundred and two storm-affected localities across the State were originally designated to participate in the NYRCR Program. See the complete list here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-designates-102-new-york-rising-communities-eligible-receive-more-750-million. In January 2014, the Governor expanded the program to include an additional 22 localities, and as a result a second round of the planning process was announced in the same month. More information on the second round can be found here: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/01072013-cuomo-biden-future-recovery-efforts.
Localities were chosen based on Federally-assessed storm damage.
The State has allotted each locality between $3 million and $25 million to implement eligible projects identified in the NYRCR Plan. The list of maximum NYRCR Program funding amounts for each locality in the first round can be found here: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-designates-102-new-york-rising-communities-eligible-receive-more-750-million. The funding amount for each locality in the second round can be found here: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press/01072013-cuomo-biden-future-recovery-efforts.
The maximum NYRCR Program funding amounts were determined based on Federally-assessed storm damage.
The NYRCR Program is funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. (Five of the 102 localities in the program—Niagara, Herkimer, Oneida, Madison, and Montgomery Counties—are not funded through the CDBG-DR program.)
There are 124 NYRCR communities participating in the NYRCR Program. Fifty NYRCR Communities, each comprising one or more of 102 localities, were created in July 2013. An additional 22 localities were added in January 2014, and organized into a second round of 14 NYRCR Communities. Each participating community was has been led by a NYRCR Planning Committee composed of local residents, business owners, and civic leaders.
Members of the Planning Committees were identified in consultation with established local leaders, community organizations, and in some cases municipalities with the aim of creating Committees representative of the Community as a whole. Typically, a committee consisted of 9-15 local residents. Across the State, more than 650 New Yorkers represent their communities by serving on Planning Committees.
Across the State, more than 650 New Yorkers represent their communities by serving on Planning Committees. More than 650 Planning Committee Meetings have been held, during which Planning Committee members worked with the State’s NYRCR Program team to develop community reconstruction plans and identify opportunities to make their communities more resilient. All meetings were open to the public and posted on the NYRCR Program’s website. An additional 250-plus Public Engagement Events have attracted thousands of community members, who provided feedback on the NYRCR planning process and proposals. The NYRCR Program’s outreach has included communities that are traditionally underrepresented, such as immigrant populations and students.
Planning Committee Meetings were open to the public and posted on the NYRCR Program’s website. Public Engagement Events were held after each important milestone of the planning and implementation process and were open to the public. These Public Engagement events were heavily promoted in the community, particularly to those populations traditionally underrepresented, and served as a forum for community members to provide feedback on the NYRCR planning process and proposals. Additionally, all planning materials were posted on the NYRCR Program’s website, which provided several ways for community members and the public to submit feedback on materials in progress.
Throughout the planning process, Planning Committees were supported by staff from the GOSR, planners from New York State (NYS) Department of State (DOS) and NYS Department of Transportation (DOT), and consultants from world-class planning firms that specialize in engineering, flood mitigation solutions, green infrastructure, and more. Representatives from municipalities also provided input.
NYRCR Communities were also eligible for additional funds through the Program’s NY Rising to the Top (NYRTTT) competition, which evaluated Round I NYRCR Communities across eight categories. The winning NYRCR Community in each category was allotted an additional $3 million of implementation funding. The eight NYRTTT categories were: best regional collaboration; best use of technology in the planning process; best community involvement in the planning process; best inclusion of vulnerable populations; best use of green infrastructure to bolster resilience; best innovative and cost-effective financing of critical projects; best infrastructure investments with multiple co-benefits; and best approach to resilient economic growth. Applications from Round II NYRCR Planning Committees were evaluated across three categories—Regional Approach, Inclusion of Vulnerable Populations, and Use of Green Infrastructure.
NYRTTT funds are not tied to any specific project; rather, they simply increase the Community’s allotment.
Each NYRCR Plan is a roadmap for a more resilient NYRCR Community, developed by NYRCR Planning Committees with the support of staff from the GOSR, planners from NYS DOS and NYS DOT, and consultants from world-class planning firms that specialize in engineering, flood mitigation solutions, green infrastructure, and more. Each NYRCR Plan contains a series of implementable strategies and projects, that will use the Community's NYRCR Program funding allocation, to build a more resilient and sustainable community.
The projects and actions set forth in each NYRCR Plan are divided into three categories. Proposed Projects are projects proposed for funding through a NYRCR Community’s allocation of CDBG-DR funding. Featured Projects are projects and actions that the Planning Committee has identified as important resiliency recommendations and has analyzed in depth, but has not proposed for funding through the NYRCR Program. Additional Resiliency Recommendations are projects and actions that the Planning Committee would like to highlight and that are not categorized as Proposed Projects or Featured Projects.
The order in which the projects and actions are listed in the NYRCR Plan does not indicate the NYRCR Community's prioritization of these projects and actions.
The Proposed Projects and Featured Projects found in the NYRCR Plan were selected for inclusion by official voting members of the Planning Committee. Voting members with conflicts of interest recused themselves from voting on any relevant projects, as required by the NYRCR Ethics Handbook and Code of Conduct.
While developing projects for inclusion in the NYRCR Plan, Planning Committees took into account cost estimates, cost-benefit analyses, the effectiveness of each project in reducing risk to populations and critical assets, feasibility, and community support. Planning Committees also considered the potential likelihood that a project or action would be eligible for CDBG-DR funding. Projects and actions implemented with this source of Federal funding must fall into a Federally-designated eligible activity category, fulfill a national objective (meeting an urgent need, removing slums and blight, or benefiting low to moderate income individuals), and have a tie to the natural disaster to which the funding is linked.
The total cost of Proposed Projects in the NYRCR Plan exceeds the NYRCR Community's CDBG-DR allocation to allow for flexibility if some Proposed Projects cannot be implemented due to environmental review, HUD eligibility, technical feasibility, or other factors.
Implementation of the projects and actions found in the NYRCR Plan are subject to applicable Federal, State, and local laws and regulations, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and procurement regulations.
GOSR partners with municipalities, other government agencies, and eligible nonprofit organizations to determine which projects and actions are best positioned for implementation. Considered criteria include, but are not limited to, cost estimates, cost-benefit analyses, the effectiveness of each project in reducing risk to populations and critical assets, feasibility, community support, and the potential likelihood that a project or action would be eligible for CDBG-DR funding. Projects and actions implemented with this source of Federal funding must fall into a Federally-designated eligible activity category, fulfill a national objective (meeting an urgent need, removing slums and blight, or benefiting low to moderate income individuals), and have a tie to the natural disaster to which the funding is linked.
After the Committees’ NYRCR Plans were finalized, GOSR began identifying projects best suited to be implemented. GOSR then confirmed and documented the projects’ CDBG-DR eligibility and selected capable subrecipients to receive CDBG-DR grant funds to implement selected projects. Currently, GOSR is working closely with subrecipients to design, bid, and implement projects across all of the NYRCR communities.
Although the formal role of the Committees in the NYRCR program has been completed, Committees may continue to be involved in the program during its implementation phase. GOSR is holding public meetings and sending email updates to ensure that Committee Members and the rest of the community are informed of project progress.
GOSR Staff is working with municipalities, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, elected officials, community leaders, and other key stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation process. The work of the consulting firms that assisted Committees during the planning phase of the NYRCR Program has concluded. The State has procured a grant management firm to support the implementation phase of this work.
Funds are provided to subrecipients on a reimbursement basis, ensuring that only the intended projects are paid for with NYRCR Program funds.
Subrecipients are screened prior to selection to ensure that they have the experience and capacity to successfully implement a project. Once selected, subrecipients have access to support from GOSR and GOSR’s grant management consultants to assist with the technical aspects of project implementation including the navigation of the complex Federal regulations associated with HUD-funded projects.
No. Funds must be spent within two years of the State’s drawing down the funds from the U.S. Treasury Department. The State will only draw down funds as needed.
It is possible to undertake more than one project at a time. GOSR is working closely with subrecipients and with its grant management consultants to expediently implement projects as they were conceived and selected for implementation from a participating community’s NYRCR Plan. Factors that could impact the ability of the GOSR to implement multiple projects at once include subrecipient capacity, project costs, and environmental review.
The first projects selected were those that were important to the community, had strong subrecipient support, protected populations and critical assets, and were deemed to be eligible activities under the CDBG-DR program.
Subrecipients are responsible for drafting solicitation packages for procurement opportunities. GOSR provides assistance as needed.
Subrecipients advertise procurements in accordance with Federal, State and local requirements. Questions about procurements should be directed to subrecipients. GOSR makes an effort to post all NYRCR-related procurements on its website http://www.stormrecovery.ny.gov.
GOSR has already broken ground on multiple projects and expects to start construction on many more in the coming months. Project progress is reported on the regional pages of the NYRCR website and in press releases. However, the amount of time required to implement a project varies considerably based on factors such as the specific permitting requirements involved, the environmental review requirements, and the subrecipient’s capacity.
GOSR works with subrecipients to develop and ultimately approve an application that includes a scopeof work, for each project to be implemented. GOSR’s approval of the scope of work for implementation will be contingent upon a demonstration that the project is eligible for CDBG-DR funding. In order to ensure that all projects implemented are eligible, GOSR may need to consult with HUD regarding outstanding eligibility questions before approving a scope of work.
GOSR is responsible for complying with HUD requirements as a condition of the grant source, CDBG-DR, that is awarded to subrecipients to carry out selected recovery and resiliency projects. Certain HUD requirements apply to GOSR, its subrecipients, and all contractors and subcontractors working on projects. Particular requirements that cover project implementation responsibilities include financial management controls, project documentation and record keeping, reporting and payment, procurement/contracting, and eligible uses for assets (eg, property, equipment) that receive federal funding . Applicable federal, state, and local regulations must also be followed, and include items such as federal and state environmental review requirements (NEPA/SEQR), federal HUD Section 3 rules, federal, State Minority- and Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE), and Service Disabled Veteran-Owned Business goals, and Federal and State labor requirements, such as Davis-Bacon rules.
GOSR is working with consultants and subrecipients to determine a reasonable cost estimate to complete these projects within the specified budget.
GOSR will continue working closely with subrecipients to advance current projects through the implementation process. GOSR will also continue to identify and roll out additional projects from the NYRCR Plans.