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Recovering Stronger: A Federal Policy Blueprint - US Water Alliance

January 2021

The U. S. Water Alliance’s report “Recovering Stronger: A Federal Policy Blueprint” was released in early 2021 and addresses the acute needs of the nation’s municipal water infrastructure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as long-term underfunding of water resources infrastructure and inequities in access to clean water. The report makes recommendations for how the federal government could make funding for municipal water resources more stable; make water supplies safer; improve access to safe drinking water and wastewater treatment in low-income communities, communities of color, and rural communities; modernize the water sector; improve resilience to climate change; and take a whole-of-government approach to managing the nation’s water resources.

Related Organizations: U.S. Water Alliance

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Community Land = Community Resilience: How Community Land Trusts Can Support Urban Affordable Housing and Climate Initiatives

January 2021

Housing insecurity and the impacts of climate change are two interrelated issues increasingly affecting cities across the United States. This report provides an overview of how community land trusts (CLTs) can present a solution to help cities mitigate both of these challenges by promoting community ownership and decisionmaking and providing permanently affordable and resilient housing. CLTs are nonprofit organizations with community-led governing structures that hold land in trust for the benefit of the community, often providing and preserving affordable housing, stewarding community amenities like parks and greenspace, and providing low-cost commercial properties that can support small businesses and economic resilience.

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Community Land Trust Brussels, Belgium

December 7, 2020

The Brussels Community Land Trust (CLTB) focuses on providing affordable housing for the most at-risk populations in the capital region of Belgium, such as low-income workers, immigrants, single mothers, seniors and people with disabilities. CLTB focuses on developing multi-family apartment buildings; it has constructed three projects with 48 units and has seven other projects under construction or study that would deliver more than 120 units. It is building highly energy efficient “net zero” housing developments that conform to sustainability requirements established by the Brussels-Capital Region. Several CLTB projects are also incorporating other green design features, such as green roofs, public gardens, and other community spaces to enhance both the environmental and social benefits of the project. It is exploring opportunities to build local energy cooperatives, to leverage incentives to build housing powered by renewable energy sources, and to shift development patterns to enhance access to transit and shift mobility patterns to emphasize biking and walking. CLTB is also working to develop “social economy hubs” in its projects to provide business incubation opportunities for the neighborhood and to support local job creation. For example, one of their development sites had old warehouses and rather than tear those buildings down immediately, CLTB worked with residents to organize temporary uses on the site including pop-up restaurants, cooking classes, and incubation of a catering business.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Bristol Community Land Trust, United Kingdom

December 6, 2020

The Bristol Community Land Trust (Bristol CLT) operating in the City of Bristol, in the United Kingdom, presents an example of a CLT that is benefiting from low-cost transfer of city-owned surplus land and delivering sustainable, resilient, affordable housing options for lower-income residents. Bristol CLT is building shared-equity and affordable rental units that meet the highest standards of energy efficiency and incorporate renewable energy with back-up batteries, air-source heat pumps, shared green space, “car share,” and other environmental and social amenities. The city adopted a policy in 2020 that will help the CLT develop affordable housing by recognizing the social, environmental, and economic benefits delivered by a project as part of the “consideration” it receives in exchange for the transfer of the land. This policy will better enable Bristol CLT to access low-cost land by rewarding the unique values of CLT-housing, including engaging residents, building social cohesion, and delivering permanently affordable housing. It also demonstrates how cities can change policies related to how they dispose of surplus lands to facilitate transfers to community-led organizations that will redevelop these properties for publicly beneficial uses, like affordable housing.

Author or Affiliated User: Jessica Grannis

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Building a Just Climate Future for North Carolina

September 2020

Developed by the Center for American Progress, the report Building a Just Climate Future for North Carolina (report) provides state leadership in North Carolina with strategies to address the pressing public health and safety threats that stem from climate change. The authors recommend six actions for policymakers to take that -- alongside actions laid out in the state’s executive order (EO) 80 and EO 143, the state’s Clean Energy Plan, and Climate Risk Assessment and Resilience Plan -- they argue will help the state address climate change while advancing conomic, racial, and environmental justice.

Related Organizations: Center for American Progress

Authors or Affiliated Users: Cathleen Kelly, Rita Cliffton

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Equitable Recovery, Equitable Resilience

August 2020

This white paper from Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) describes the roles that community organizations play in responding to natural disasters, as well as the accomplishments and challenges relating to this work. With natural disasters related to climate change occuring at increasingly frequent rates, community organizations provide critical emergency aid and recovery services. Furthermore, these services can help reduce the recovery gap within communities, as underlying economic, social, and housing factors and public policy decisions create disparities which are exacerbated through natural disasters. Drawing on interviews with various organizations in California, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Texas, this paper reviews the different strategies that these groups use and puts forth some recommendations for policy changes that may be necessary to advance equity in recovery and resilience. 

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Building Community Resilience with Nature-Based Solutions: A Guide for Local Communities

August 2020

In 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published this guide to help communities identify the multiple benefits of nature-based solutions (NBS) and incorporate NBS into their efforts to build resilience to increasing climate change hazards. The guide includes a range of information about different types of NBS, determining their value, and implementing NBS to aid communities at different phases of the hazard mitigation process. Communities looking to build community and political support for NBS, to fund NBS, and to incorporate NBS into new and existing local plans and policies can all benefit from this guide.

Related Organizations: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Tehama, California Elevating Homes

The City of Tehama, California is working to protect vulnerable residents from flooding through elevation of their homes. Tehama is adjacent to the Sacramento River in the northern Central Valley and has endured several floods over the years. As climate change is anticipated to increase the potential for flooding in this area, residents are at a greater risk of losing their homes to flooding. Many of the residents are unable to pay for the cost of elevating their homes, prompting the city to patch together non-municipal funding sources to substantially reduce residents’ costs. The majority of the cost was covered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) through Section 205 of the Flood Control Act of 1948, and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board. The remaining 10% of the cost could be covered by funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) program for low income residents. 

Related Organizations: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), City of Tehama, California

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Seattle Public Utilities - Utility Discount Program

2020

In recent years, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU), which is the city’s water utility and provides drinking water and wastewater treatment, has strongly emphasized community engagement and equity issues through the creation of a variety of organizations and programs. One organization, Connect Capital, which is comprised of SPU staff and members of a community foundation and a community organization, advises SPU on how to ensure that the benefits of future  investments are equitable and address climate threats to those at risk of displacement. One result of Connect Capital’s encouragement is SPU’s investment in infrastructure in frontline communities, such as the South Park Neighborhood. Another equitable initiative under SPU is the Utility Discount Program, under which seniors, persons with disabilities, and low-income customers receive a reduction in their water and electricity bills. Households with incomes at or below 70% of state median income pay only 50% of their SPU bill. Further still, SPU’s Environmental Justice and Service Equity Division aims to promote inclusive community engagement and collaboration.

Related Organizations: Seattle Public Utilities

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Equitable Adaptation Legal and Policy Toolkit - Georgetown Climate Center

July 29, 2020

The impacts of climate change disproportionately affect overburdened and low-income individuals and communities of color that already face significant economic and social challenges. The cumulative impacts of pollution, racism, and political and economic disenfranchisement make it difficult for these communities to withstand and recover from extreme heat, flooding, and other climate impacts. To help communities address the challenges of climate resilience and social inequality, the Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) partnered with leading experts and practitioners to develop the Equitable Adaptation Legal & Policy Toolkit, a comprehensive online resource to help state and local governments work with communities on climate adaptation solutions that put frontline communities first.

Related Organizations: Georgetown Climate Center

Authors or Affiliated Users: Georgetown Climate Center, Tiffany Ganthier, Lisa Hamilton, Annie Bennett, Katherine McCormick, Anne Perrault, Sara Hoverter, Sara Hoverter, Jennifer Li, Joel B. Smith, Joel B. Smith

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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