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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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Land Acquisition and Restoration Projects in the Greens Bayou Watershed in Harris County, Texas: Greens WetBank and Bayou Greenways 2020

In Texas, Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) and other local partners, including the nonprofit Houston Parks Board, are implementing different land acquisition, restoration, and conservation projects in the Greens Bayou watershed in Harris County and the City of Houston. Two programs and initiatives include the Greens Bayou Mitigation Bank (Greens WetBank) and Bayou Greenways 2020. The Greens WetBank is a wetland mitigation bank on nearly 1,000 acres of land in Harris County, where HCFCD restores wetlands and generates revenue by selling “wetland credits” to developers who need to offset wetland losses at locations outside the Greens WetBank’s land in Harris County. In addition, Bayou Greenways 2020 is a large-scale, public-private initiative led by Houston Parks Board to create 150 miles of greenways and trails and an additional 3,000 acres of public greenspace along Houston’s major bayous through land acquisition and conservation efforts. Bayou Greenways 2020 has been the result of an extensive community engagement campaign and funding leveraged from federal, state, local, and private sources to create local parks and open spaces in Houston. Greens WetBank and Bayou Greenways 2020 are examples of how comprehensive land acquisition, restoration, and conservation actions can increase local resilience in a specific watershed by mitigating future flood risks, enhancing the environment, and creating community assets. Other jurisdictions could consider a similar model to coordinate future land uses in a watershed with climate adaptation, including managed retreat strategies, hazard reduction, and natural resource and open space management. 

Related Organizations: Harris County, Texas, Houston Parks Board

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — City of Austin, Texas: Flood Risk Reduction Buyout Projects

July 15, 2020

The City of Austin, Texas has adopted a model to provide consistent relocation benefits for voluntary home buyouts in the city’s floodplains as a part of its “flood risk reduction projects.” In addition to the cost of a person’s original home, the city will provide homeowners with moving and closing costs, and a replacement housing payment if the cost of a new comparable home (located outside of the city’s 100-year floodplain) is more than the original home. This policy encourages owner participation in the buyout program and helps to minimize the economic and social costs of relocation. The city’s Watershed Protection Department prioritizes buyouts in accordance with a Watershed Protection Master Plan that strategically guides related city actions, including potential buyouts, to reduce the risks associated with erosion, flooding, and poor water quality. A mix of municipal bonds, federal grants, and local funds (primarily through a drainage fee paid by owners of properties based upon impervious surface cover) have been used to fund the buyouts. Austin’s example is noteworthy for its emphasis on implementing buyouts in accordance with a comprehensive flood mitigation program and facilitating transitions for people located in floodplains through relocation assistance. Other jurisdictions considering managed retreat could implement an interdisciplinary buyout approach across different sectors and government agencies (e.g., floodplain and emergency management and housing and community development). .

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas — Harris County, Texas: Flood Control District Local Buyout Program

July 15, 2020

Harris County, Texas established a voluntary home buyout program through the regional government agency, the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD), that can serve as an example for other local jurisdictions considering retreat from coastal and riverine flood-prone areas. The buyout program is focused on risk reduction and flood mitigation best practices, where once bought out, properties are returned to open space uses to restore their natural beneficial flood retention functions. HCFCD has developed an effective communication and outreach strategy to educate the public and encourage program participation. Historically, properties have been acquired with grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance program, Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program, and local funding from a dedicated ad valorem property tax (i.e., a tax based on a property’s assessed value). Other state, regional, and local jurisdictions considering managed retreat could implement a similar comprehensive buyout model that operates in both a pre- and post-disaster context to reduce flood risks and engages the community throughout the entire process. This case study is one of 17 case studies featured in a report written by the Georgetown Climate Center, Managing the Retreat from Rising Seas: Lessons and Tools from 17 Case Studies.

Resource Category: Solutions

 

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Dallas, Texas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan

April 2020

The Dallas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP) is a roadmap developed by the City of Dallas, Texas, and community stakeholders that outlines steps the city can take to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while enhancing climate resilience. The plan provides an overview of the environmental and climate challenges that Dallas faces, recommends actions to improve the environmental quality of the city, build resilience, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and identifies funding and partnership opportunities to support plan implementation.

Related Organizations: City of Dallas, Texas

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Resilient Houston - City of Houston, Texas Resilience Strategy

February 2020

Related Organizations: City of Houston, Texas, 100 Resilient Cities

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Texas Flood Infrastructure Fund

November 2019

In 2019, the State of Texas established the Texas Flood Infrastructure Fund (TFIF), which provides financial support to communities for drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects. Administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the TFIF fund provides financial assistance to political subdivisions (cities, counties, or state-established districts or authorities) in the form of grants and zero-interest loans. The funding can be used to support planning, design, construction, and rehabilitation of flood projects, whether structural or non-structural (including nature-based).

Related Organizations: Texas Water Development Board

Resource Category: Funding

 

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San Antonio, Texas Climate Action and Adaptation Plan - SA Climate Ready

October 17, 2019

San Antonio Climate Ready is a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) that provides a roadmap to achieve equitable climate mitigation and resilience goals for San Antonio, Texas - one of the largest and fastest growing cities in the U. S. The City of San Antonio aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and the CAAP identifies mitigation strategies intended to advance that goal, inclusive of adaptive ecosystem restoration and social equity strategies. As temperature and extreme heat events increase while annual precipitation decreases across the region, the plan also identifies 45 adaptation strategies to address these climate impacts and many more.

Related Organizations: City of San Antonio, Texas

Resource Category: Planning

 

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Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund

June 13, 2019

In June 2019, the State of Texas established the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund (TIRF), a new special fund in the state treasury for the purpose of financing flood mitigation and protection projects and related planning efforts. The TIRF is administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and includes four separate accounts: a Federal Matching Account, a Floodplain Management Account, a Flood Implementation Account, and a Hurricane Harvey Account.

Related Organizations: Texas Water Development Board

Resource Category: Funding

 

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Texas 2019 Coastal Resiliency Master Plan

March 14, 2019

The Texas General Land Office (GLO) updated Coastal Resiliency Master Plan provides a framework for the protection and adaptation of coastal infrastructure and natural resources across the most vulnerable regions of the Texas Gulf coast. The Resiliency Plan adopts the most current storm surge and sea level rise models to determine the implication of projected climate impacts, coastal hazards, and prioritization of these projects. The priority issues of concern identified for resilience planning on the Texas coast focus on degraded or lost habitat, beach and dune erosion, storm surge, coastal flooding, impacts on water quality and quantity, loss of marine and coastal resources, and shoreline debris.

Related Organizations: Texas General Land Office

Resource Category: Planning

 

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