HUD Prepares for the Impacts of Climate Change
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is moving forward with a proposed rule today to ensure that affordable housing and economic development projects are protected from sea level rise and the impacts of flooding. The new policy is the latest in a series of steps the agency has taken and is part of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to address the threat posed by sea level rise and devastating floods due to climate change.
The new policy will ensure that HUD-funded affordable housing, hospitals, nursing homes, as well as other infrastructure and economic development projects, are better sited and better designed with future flood risks in mind. HUD’s proposed rule will require projects to be built on higher ground or, if a project must be built in a floodplain, that it is elevated to avoid future damages from rising seas or floodwaters.
Building higher or on land outside of a floodplain may slightly increase the construction costs of affordable housing and other HUD-funded projects, but it would ultimately save low-income families the hardship of repeated displacement or the loss of essential services, such as hospitals. It will also save taxpayers the expense of rebuilding these facilities over and over again.
Following is a statement from Rob Moore, senior water policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“This new policy demonstrates HUD’s commitment to addressing the challenges the nation faces due to the impacts of climate change, particularly in low-income communities that HUD’s programs primarily serve. The poorest members of a community are often the least prepared for a disaster and have less financial resources to rebuild their lives in the aftermath.
“Furthermore, it’s common sense that HUD would want safer housing, schools and other essential services. When the federal government pays to build a hospital or a water treatment plant or some other public facility, we should expect that it’s going to be safe for the long-term and that it won’t be damaged in a flood or inundated as sea levels rise.”
- Diverse Coalition Backs Proposed Flood Protection Rule, by Joel Scata, Aug. 22, 2016
- Five Climate-Smart Actions to Reform Flood Insurance, by Rob Moore, Aug. 9, 2016
- Climate Risks Must Be Part of Plans to Help Nation’s Poorest by Rob Moore, July 20, 2016
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.