Israeli Delegation Visit
Cynthia Campbell, Director of PD&R’s International and Philanthropic Affairs Division.
HUD recently hosted a delegation from our agency counterparts in Israel. The Israeli delegation included representatives from the Israel Planning Administration, including the director general as well as chief planners and architects from Tel Aviv, Rishon LeZion, Jerusalem, Herzliya, and Nahariya. The delegation also included several staff members from the Ministry of Construction and Housing, including the chief architect; the deputy director-general of the Israel Planning Administration; the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the director of urban planning, representing the Israel Urban Renewal Authority.
The Israeli delegation visited several projects in New York City. During the first stop, the delegation examined the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA’s) redevelopment efforts in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, including a review of how well this area has recovered from Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Among the sites we visited was Baruch Houses, the largest NYCHA development in Manhattan. Baruch Houses received part of the $3.2 billion in federal disaster recovery funds administered through NYCHA’s Recovery and Resilience Department. The delegation was able to see how the city upgraded structural and mechanical systems to withstand future flooding events. We also surveyed recovery and resiliency projects at two other NYCHA housing projects in the Lower East Side: the Jacob Riis Houses and Lillian Wald Houses.
Next, we headed across the Hudson River to New Jersey to see the state’s Rebuild by Design project, which received $230 million in HUD funding to improve the flood resilience of the cities of Hoboken, Weehawken, and Jersey City, which were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. The project incorporates four themes of resilience:
“Resist: A combination of hard infrastructure and soft landscaping features that act as barriers along the coast during exceptionally high tide and/or storm surge events;
Delay: Policy recommendations, guidelines, and urban green infrastructure to slow stormwater runoff;
Store: Green and grey infrastructure improvements that slow down and capture stormwater; and
Discharge: enhancements to Hoboken’s existing stormwater management system, including the identification and upgrading of existing stormwater/sewer lines, outfalls, and pumping stations.”
We were able to see how the project incorporated these themes as we walked through the waterfront area. We then headed to a Southwest Resiliency Park to meet Ravi Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken. Mayor Bhalla showed us how the park captured and stored stormwater run-off, preventing it from inundating city streets. The park also offered neighborhood residents a lovely space to gather, including plenty of seating, water bottle refill stations, and a public restroom, something not commonly found in local parks.
Representatives from HUD and the Israeli delegation meet with the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, in a Southwest Resiliency Park, which is built to capture and store stormwater run-off.
The delegation then traveled to Washington, DC, where HUD staff briefed the Israeli delegation on public housing in the United States, HUD’s resilience projects and research on innovative construction techniques, and U.S. building codes. We also shared information about the Innovative Housing Showcase, which will be held in June on the National Mall. Finally, we gave the group an overview of HUD’s Climate Action Plan.
The Israeli delegation, in turn, shared Israel’s strategies for addressing housing issues, including a comprehensive review of its public housing system.
HUD always welcomes opportunities to meet our counterparts from other nations. Along the way, HUD staff members share their experiences with their counterparts, and they, in turn, share their experiences with us. We have many of the same issues in common, and hearing others’ perspectives on how they address these challenges helps us refine our own policy approaches.