Seven U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C., will have an opportunity to kickstart (or continue) projects that would build resilience to climate and weather-related events, thanks to a new Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and White House program.
The agency and Administration has announced recipients of the first round in a series of low-interest loans aimed at helping local governments carry out hazard mitigation projects, according to a news release from FEMA.
White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi says the collaboration represents one step toward protecting American infrastructures against disaster.
The U.S. “must harness this sort of innovative partnership to tackle increasingly frequent and severe climate-fueled disasters,” Zaidi said.
The funds are part of the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $500 million to FEMA’s Safeguarding Tomorrow program (a revolving loan fund program that complements the agency’s hazard mitigation grant portfolio) through 2026.
The program will help local governments make structures more resilient to natural hazards by, for example, improving flood control, implementing changes in zoning and land-use planning needed to adapt to a changing climate, and enforcing adoption of resilient building codes.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said the Biden Administration, with bipartisan support in Congress, has made billions of dollars available to help build resilience nationwide, but that economically disadvantaged communities still face barriers when it comes to financing their own projects.
The FEMA/White House program, “will allow states to provide low-interest loans to help communities secure the additional capital needed to fund these projects,” Criswell said.
Local governments may also apply the funding to satisfy their cost-share requirement for FEMA hazard mitigation assistance grants. As these loans are paid back to the states, the funding can be used to finance additional projects, according to FEMA.
Applicants selected for this inaugural round of loans include:
- District of Columbia ($6.1 million)
- Louisiana ($6.9 million)
- Maryland ($6.5 million)
- Michigan ($5.1 million)
- New Jersey ($6.4 million)
- New York ($6.2 million)
- South Carolina ($6.4 million)
- Virginia ($6.1 million).
FEMA says it will offer technical assistance through webinars, office hours, website updates, and program support materials to help these and future participants.
This first year of the program will inform future funding opportunities and ensure long-term viability and success of the program at all levels, according to FEMA’s announcement. The agency anticipates releasing the next funding opportunity later this fall.