HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition

Eligible applicants for the NDRC included states and local governments that were struck by natural disasters in 2011 through 2013 were eligible to compete. State and local applicants were required to develop innovative approaches to reduce their future risks to natural hazards and build long-term resilience.  The winning proposals received funding to implement innovative resilience projects.  Of the nearly $1 billion available, about $820 million were made available to all states and local governments that experienced a Presidential disaster declaration in 2011, 2012, and 2013; the remaining funds were set-aside for the region affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The National Disaster Resilience Competition was a year-long competition structured in two phases: (1) the framing phase and (2) the implementation phase. During Phase I, applicants were asked to develop broad approaches to increase the resilience of their states and communities.  Of the 67 eligible applicants, 40 teams were selected to develop innovative resilience projects in Phase II.  Phase II applications had to include a cost-benefit analysis of their proposed project that accounted for the social and ecological benefits of the project. 

The benefit cost analysis (BCA) that HUD required as part of this competition was an innovation that could be replicated in other grant programs.  Applicants were allowed to present both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the benefits of the projects.  Applicants were also asked to look at the following factors:1 

  • lifecycle costs of the project - project costs and operation and maintenance costs.
  • resiliency value - protection from effects of future and repeated natural disasters including reduction in expected property damages, reduction of expected casualties, value of reduced displacement, reduced vulnerability of energy and water infrastructure to large-scale outages. 
  • environmental value - ecosystem and biodiversity effects, reduced energy use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced air pollution, improved water quality, reduced urban-heat island effects.
  • social value - reductions in human suffering (such as lives lost, illness from exposure to environmental contamination, asthma and cancer rates, and population living with greater environmental risk), benefits to low and moderate income persons and households, improved living environment (such as elimination or reduction of slum and blight conditions, improved social cohesion, improved recreational values, greater access to cultural, historical, archaeological sites and landscapes, equal access to resilient community assets), and greater housing affordability.
  • economic revitalization - direct benefits to local or regional economy (e.g., tourism revenues) and increases in property value. 

In January 2016, thirteen winning proposals were selected to receive funding to implement their projects. The winners included California, Connecticut, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Virginia, New York City, New Orleans, Minot, North Dakota, Shelby County, Tennessee, and Springfield, Massachusetts.  The projects include a fire suppression and bioenergy facility to protect forest and watershed health in California, tribal relocation and wetlands restoration in Louisiana, creation of a resilience district in New Orleans, and green infrastructure improvements to public housing campuses in New York City, among others. 


HUD prioritized applications that had a strong focus on equity, and many of the winning projects provide models for how resilience investments can focus on frontline communities. For example, New York State's project focuses on how to build resilience in low-income public housing. Springfield, MA, is taking action to restore its affordable housing stock and invest in workforce development. Louisiana state is using funding to relocate a tribal community on the Isle de Jean Charles, which has experienced a 98% loss of land relative to 1955. 

The Rockefeller Foundation
 supported HUD and the goals of the National Disaster Resilience Competition by convening resilience workshops around the country. Teams from every eligible state and local jurisdiction had the opportunity to gain a wide range of information and expertise on resilience. The workshops helped the state and local applicants  identify and assess their local risks and vulnerabilities, encouraged sharing and peer-learning, and taught applicants how to incorporate resilience thinking into their project design and programs.  

Funding for the competition is from the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery appropriation provided by the Hurricane Sandy supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.

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Publication Date: June 14, 2014

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