Big money for U.S. resilience

I recently co-led an American Institute of Architect event in New York City, Funding the Future Workshop: Resilience Planning Across Public & Private Sectors, and was captivated by a presentation from Heather Roiter, Director of Hazard Mitigation at the NYC Office of Emergency Management. She elucidated the millions of dollars in federal monies her office keeps tabs on. It got me wondering what the federal purse for resilience is.  You may be surprised, as I was, by the sums – including a pivot at FEMA about pre-disaster (aka resilience funding) that we should all laud in addition to the agency’s disaster response and recovery dollars - $395M + 6% of FEMA assistance per disaster declaration nationwide.

Globally, the sums are even bigger.  Earlier this week, the World Bank announced $200 billion in funding for climate action, a significant portion of which it plans to spend on adaptation and resilience. 

As last week’s U.S. National Climate Assessment asserted, the stakes are so very high. It is up to all of us to use this money efficiently – leveraging it with assets from the private sector and applying it to projects that build social equity while saving lives and improving livelihoods.

Here is a non-exhaustive list in hopes it is helpful:

FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation Funding

●      Funding is available for mitigation nationwide. This is the only consistent pot of federal funding dedicated to risk-reducing physical projects.

●      Flood Mitigation Assistance

○      Reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings and structures insured under the National Flood Insurance Program.

○      FY18 - $160M available annually nationwide (Congress appropriated).

○      Competitive nationwide.

●      Pre-disaster Mitigation

○      Implement and sustain cost-effective measures designed to reduce risk to individuals and property while reducing the resilience on federal funding for future disasters.

○      FY18 - $235M available annually nationwide (Congress appropriated).

○      Competitive nationwide.

●      National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Mitigation

○      Fund to be funded as a 6 percent set-aside from disaster expenses to enable a greater investment in mitigation before a disaster.

○      6 percent of FEMA assistance per disaster declaration nationwide.

○      Competitive nationwide.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

●      Grant program to support long-term disaster recovery in hard-hit areas in nine states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

●      States covered: California, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Texas, Louisiana, North Carolina, West Virginia, South Carolina.

●      $28 billion will be used to address seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure from major disasters that occurred since 2015.

○      Grants represent the largest single amount of disaster recovery assistance in HUD’s history.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)National Estuary Program (NEP) Coastal Watersheds Grant

●      Supports projects that address urgent and challenging issues that threaten the ecological and economic well-being of coastal and estuarine areas.

●      Federal funds expected to be available under this announcement is approximately $4 million ($1 million for each of the first four years) depending on agency funding levels, the quality of applications received and other applicable considerations.

○      EPA requires the applicant to provide a minimum 25 percent match of the total federal request.

●      Competitive nationwide.

Green Project Reserve - Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)

●      10 percent of the funds made available under the Clean Water State Revolving Fund shall be used by a state for projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmentally innovative activities.

●      FY 2018 CWSRF Final Allotments: $1,655,202,000.

●      Competitive nationwide.

Federal Funding Compendium for Urban Heat Adaptation

●      The Georgetown Climate Center produced an in-depth document with information related to 44 separate federal programs that could support cities and states in reducing the impacts of urban heat.


Thank you to Baylee Ritter for her help researching this article.