FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program
Administered by FEMA, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP, CFDA Number: 97.039) provides grants to state and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. HMGP funding is only available to applicants that reside within a Presidentially declared disaster area. The purpose of the HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster
Purpose: The program’s purpose is to provide funding to states and communities to implement activities that will help them reduce risks of damage and loss of life and property from future natural disasters and hazards.
Eligible Uses and Potential Adaptation Uses: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds may be used to fund projects that will reduce or eliminate the losses from future disasters. HMGP funds can be used for a range of activities that can promote resilience to climate change, including: to retrofit facilities; to acquire properties; to relocate or demolish structures; to elevate structures; to implement flood reduction projects; and to develop state or local mitigation standards; among other activities. Projects must conform to the state or local Hazard Mitigation Plan (as discussed below), be cost-effective, and substantially reduce risk of future damage or loss.1 FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Guidance, which covers three programs (HMGP, PDM and FMA, which are described below), was recently updated to promote climate change and resiliency considerations.2 Projects must provide a long-term solution to a problem, for example, elevation of a home to reduce the risk of flood damages as opposed to buying sandbags and pumps to fight the flood. In addition, a project's potential savings must be more than the cost of implementing the project. Funds may be used to protect either public or private property or to purchase property that has been subjected to, or is in danger of, repetitive damage. The HMGP can provide funding for green infrastructure flood mitigation projects, including acquisition and relocation of flood-prone properties, and soil stabilization projects including the installation of vegetative buffer strips.
Special Application to Green Infrastructure Projects: For green infrastructure projects, HMGP funding has a number of requirements that may limit the eligible of these types of projects. Projects are eligible for funding only if they are included in the state or local government’s hazard mitigation plan and must meet FEMA cost-benefit criteria. HMGP funding must reduce potential future disaster damage and cannot therefore be used for projects whose sole purpose is to improve water quality or address ecological or agricultural issues. Nevertheless, FEMA now explicitly encourages applicants for hazard-mitigation funding to propose projects that include green infrastructure or other nature-based solutions for flood reduction and stormwater management.3 To facilitate the required benefit-cost analysis for these types of projects, FEMA now also allows applicants to count some ecosystem services as benefits in addition to the more traditional loss-avoidance benefits.4 Ecosystem services include aesthetic value, air quality, recreation space, and water filtration.
Case Study from New Orleans used HMGP funding for its post-Katrina rebuilding process, including the reconstruction of the city’s stormwater infrastructure. Although the New Orleans Stormwater plan calls for a significant expansion of green infrastructure to manage the city’s chronic flooding, the city initially had difficulty demonstrating the benefits of green infrastructure under FEMA’s required benefit-cost analysis because the city 1) lacked the data to demonstrate potential flood losses avoided and 2) could not count many of green infrastructure’s environmental benefits. Demonstrating the cost-benefit of green infrastructure under HMGP has been much easier since FEMA amended its policy to allow counting of some “ecosystem services” (see above).
Eligible Grantees: HMGP funding is only available to states, U.S. territories, and recognized tribes. Eligible applicants for HMGP include the emergency management agencies of each state, territory, the District of Columbia, and federally-recognized tribes. Local governments and other political subdivisions or special districts must apply to the state as sub-applicants for HMGP funding. Applicants can also subgrant to a range of entities including local government entities, and private non-profit organizations. Funding becomes available to states following a Presidential disaster declaration; eligible applicants must apply to FEMA within 60 days of the disaster declaration.
Process and Requirements: Grantees become eligible for assistance after a presidential disaster declaration. To be eligible for funding from the HMGP, the applicant (or local government subapplicant) must have a FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan.5 The state is responsible for identifying and selecting eligible hazard mitigation projects. Funds are awarded based upon project applications from eligible applicants and are partially capped according to a formula. FEMA can fund up to 75 percent of eligible costs of projects applied for under the disaster declaration.
For more information about the HMGP, see FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program Guidance: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, and Flood Mitigation Assistance Program” (February 2015), available at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/103279.
Authorization: The HMGP is authorized under Section 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. § 5170c; and FEMA's implementing regulations can be found at 44 C.F.R. Part 206, subpart N (§§ 206.430-206.440).
If you have any trouble accessing the website link above, please find here an archived page. This archived page may, however, have more limited functionality. http://web.archive.org/web/20161231175127/https://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program
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1. 44 C.F.R. § 206.434.
2. FEMA, Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance, Feb. 27, 2015, https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1424983165449-38f5dfc69c0bd4ea8a161e8bb7b79553/HMA_Guidance_022715_508.pdf (hereafter “HMA Guidance”).
3. FEMA, “Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, and Flood Mitigation Assistance Program” (February 2015) at 43.
4. FEMA, Policy Clarification: Benefit Cost Analysis for Tools for Drought, Ecosystem Services, and Post-Wildfire Mitigation for Hazard Mitigation Assistance (May 27, 2016), http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1464899521902-b2d31bbf89cc089c3cd43851a33d4aee/PolicyClarification_BCA(Drought-EcosystemServices-Wildfire)_508.pdf
5. 44 C.F.R. § 206.434. Mitigation plan requirements are set out in 44 C.F.R. Part 201 (§ 201.4 for standard state plans, § 201.5 for enhanced state plans, § 201.6 for local and multi-jurisdictional plans, and § 201.7 for tribal plans).