Case Study: RainReady’s Oak Park Village (Illinois) Pilot Program
In 2016-2017, RainReady partnered with the Village of Oak Park (Illinois) to launch a pilot program to reduce urban flooding risks using nature-based solutions such as residential rain gardens. The program addressed residential flooding due to overland sheet flow, seepage, and yard ponding, in non-floodplain locations.
The program utilized the RainReady Home model, designed by the non-profit Center for Neighborhood Technology. This approach provides homeowners with independent, integrated home assessments identifying flood risks and solutions, and connects homeowner to contractors who can complete the work.
Ten applicants were selected for the pilot program, using a protocol that identified properties which were most suitable for the program services and would likely receive positive impact from green infrastructure improvements. RainReady selected the ten participants by prioritizing applications based primarily on feasibility and the opportunity to achieve increased stormwater infiltration using green infrastructure. RainReady also considered factors such as the property’s flooding history, neighborhoods with increased social vulnerability, and opportunity to cluster green infrastructure installations. In the end, the selected homes were in neighborhoods that were representative of the overall community demographics, such as median household income and racial composition.
Selected applicants entered an agreement with the Village of Oak Park, allowing them to receive fifty percent reimbursement, up to $1,300 for any grant-approved landscaping improvements. To be eligible for the grant, applicants had to own and reside in an Oak Park home, and be willing to participate in post-construction monitoring and evaluation. Many program participants had previously installed a sewer backup protection system (i.e., backflow valve or overhead sewer) through the Village’s Sewer Backup Grant Program.
The selected homeowners received a free assessment and detailed report from RainReady, including grant-eligible and other non-grant eligible recommendations to mitigate flooding at their home, and a suggested landscape design for green infrastructure and associated re-grading to drain stormwater away from building. After receiving their recommendations and deciding whether to proceed with installation, the homeowners selected their contractor. The homeowners were able to select any contractor registered and licensed to do business in the Village of Oak Park.
The Oak Park implementation of the RainReady Home approach was funded through a resolution passed by the Oak Park Village Board in September 2016 as part of their ongoing Sewer Backup Grant Program. The resolution allocated $13,000 for grants to the ten homeowners, and additional funding to support the program administration by RainReady.
In mid-2017, Georgetown Climate Center spoke with RainReady to learn about this program's successes and provide recommendations for improvement. his case study reflects what we learned. To explore similar programs and lessons learned, see RainReady’s Residential Flood Assistance Program and Boulder, Colorado’s Home Preparedness Assessment Program.
Publication Date: 2016
- Village of Oak Park, Illinois
- Center for Neighborhood Technology