SAFR Connecticut Connections: Building-up a resilient development and transportation network to support vulnerable communities

The State Agencies For Resilience (SAFR) Connecticut Connections report is a proposal for the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) implemented by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The NDRC is making nearly $1 billion in funds available to communities impacted by natural disasters from 2011-2013. HUD preselected the State of Connecticut as an eligible applicant for this grant. Within the State of Connecticut, Fairfield and New Haven counties were determined by HUD to be the most impacted and distressed areas.

Review a winning proposal from the National Disaster Resilience Competition to see how a state developed an implementable long-term vision for resilience.

The Applicant, the State of Connecticut’s Department of Housing (DOH), is working with SAFR to address these risks and prepare and implement the NDRC proposal. This report describes how using economic development along transportation corridors as a driver of economic revitalization will provide for a more resilient economy and will provide additional housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

The proposal outlines a long-term vision for establishing more resilient coastal communities where structures and critical infrastructure in the flood zone are adapted to withstand occasional flooding and protected by healthy buffering ecosystems, where critical services, infrastructure and transport hubs are located on safer, higher ground, and where strong connections exist between the two.

Connecticut faces an acute shortage of affordable housing and many of the existing affordable units are vulnerable due to their location within the floodplain. This vulnerability is expected to increase as sea levels rise.  This proposal suggests new incentives that support mixed-income, transit-oriented developments within resilience zones.  

Here’s more detail underlying the strategy: 

Connecticut’s coastal topography creates opportunities because ridgelines often extend down to the coastline. These elevated corridors can become a critical connection and safe way back to the inland areas. This unique physical environment also means that all of the communities impacted by Sandy have areas of high ground (often the historic center of the community), which can serve as resilience zones.

Therefore, the proposal advocates that by identifying these resilience corridors and zones and strategically investing in their long-term functionality, the state can enhance the safety and livability of shorefront communities. By connecting these corridors to regional transportation networks, the state can strengthen economic resilience while adapting to future flooding.

The proposal suggests that these areas of high ground can over time be adapted to house the most critical facilities, resilient housing, and to provide key services and shelter during storms. Increasing investment in these resilience zones provides an opportunity to increase economic resilience by strongly tying back to the regional transportation network and regional economic opportunities. Therefore, these investments represent a ‘no regrets’ approach to climate adaptation because in addition to providing long-term resilience, they provide a myriad of co-benefits that strengthen communities and economic opportunities in the short term and between storms.

New Haven and Fairfield counties were designated by HUD as most impacted and distressed counties due to Hurricane Sandy, the Qualifying Disaster for this competition. Sandy damaged 2,853 single- family homes in Fairfield County and 1,165 in New Haven County. Unmet recovery needs in these counties total more than $158 million from housing ($135,789,167) and infrastructure ($22,510,508). This unmet need includes eight public housing properties in the 100-year floodplain.

According to the report, if Connecticut were to assess all resilient repair needs the additional need would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Coastal communities are home to 60% of the state’s population and more than 32,000 homes lie within the 100-year floodplain. Connecticut has the second highest exposure of vulnerable coastal assets on the east coast. With more than $542 billion in assets at risk to coastal storms; only Florida has a greater exposure.




Publication Date: May 1, 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Connecticut Department of Housing (DOH)

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  • Plans (other)

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