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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. 

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Big Sur Land Trust—Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement Project (Carmel FREE)

January 2020

The Big Sur Land Trust in partnership with the County of Monterey is leading implementation of the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement (Carmel FREE) project that will restore habitat and reduce flood risks in the lower Carmel River watershed. The project will use nature-based approaches to reduce flood risks to nearby properties by restoring the natural river corridor and habitats. Old levees in need of maintenance along the River will be removed to allow restoration of the natural floodplain, which will improve water quality and habitats, and recharge groundwater. A new causeway bridge for Highway 1 will be built to restore hydrological connectivity and facilitate restoration of wetlands on the project site that are adjacent to the Carmel Lagoon. Additionally, new trails will be constructed throughout the project site to create recreational amenities for residents. These activities are anticipated to restore approximately 100 acres of wetlands and other habitats delivering environmental benefits and also enhancing flood resilience from sea-level rise and more frequent storms for businesses and residents in the Carmel Valley. This project demonstrates how public-private partnerships with land trusts can be used to facilitate land acquisitions and support ecosystem-based restoration projects. 

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Bronzeville Microgrid - Chicago, Illinois

2019

The Bronzeville Microgrid project deployed in a neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois demonstrates how utilities can invest in pilot microgrid projects to benefit underserved communities. Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) implemented a 7.7 MW community microgrid that will provide service to approximately 770 customers in the historically black neighborhood of Bronzeville Chicago. The project, which is a key component of the utility’s “Community of the Future Initiative,” will serve an area that includes facilities that provide critical services, including hospitals, police headquarters, fire departments, a library, public works buildings, restaurants, health clinics, public transportation, educational facilities, and churches. Bronzeville, considered to be a climate vulnerable urban area, was selected using a data-driven process and based on many socioeconomic factors including income, public health, and lack of investment in the community’s existing infrastructure. 

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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. 

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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.

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Jade District Greening Initiatives - Portland, Oregon

2019

The Jade Greening Initiatives refer to two concurrent initiatives to plan and implement targeted tree planting and greening in the underserved Jade District of outer southeast Portland, Oregon. Residents in the district experience significant economic and health disparities due to historic public disinvestment, its location surrounded by major transportation corridors on all sides, and lack of tree canopy and accessible green space. With assistance from community-based organizations, community members and businesses worked together to set priorities for neighborhood development and greening. Collaboration, planning, and design of new greenspace were supported through the EPA's Greening America's Communities Program and the Oregon Solutions Program.

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DC Hotel Voucher Program

2020

Under the auspices of D. C. law, the Interagency Council on Homelessness is required to meet the emergency housing needs of both homeless families and homeless individuals in instances of severe weather – whether hot or cold. As a result, the District’s Department of Human Services (DHS) works with hotels and motels in the greater metropolitan area to provide rooms for families and individuals when there are no vacancies at shelters. Due in part, however, to D. C. ’s Homeward initiative and other homeless services, the number of participants in the program have dwindled as people have either been transferred to permanent housing or other shelters.

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Resilient Infrastructure for New York State

December 19, 2019

This report from Rebuild By Design describes a proposal to create a Resilient Infrastructure Fund to support green and grey infrastructure projects that reduce flooding, coupled with a buy-out program, to improve the physical, social, and ecological resilience of New York State. It proposes a transparent, inclusive, and equitable approach to finance climate adaptation planning and implementation throughout the state. Though designed for New York, the recommendations are applicable to and can serve as a model for other states.

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The Kresge Foundation Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative: Evaluation Report

December 10, 2019

The Kresge Foundation established the Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity (CRUO) initiative in 2014 to advance climate resilience by building capacity within low-income urban communities. Kresge believes that climate resilience requires a comprehensive approach which incorporates climate change mitigation, adaptation, and social cohesion. CROU offered $29 million over 5 years to 15 community-based nonprofit organizations (CBOs) across the U. S. to advance equitable climate resilience. This report reviews the impact of the initiative, outcomes and lessons learned from across the funded projects.

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Baltimore Shines - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Shines is a Baltimore City initiative that helps low-income residents access solar energy through either rooftop installations or community solar projects in Baltimore, Maryland. The program also expands workforce development opportunities in the solar installation industry. Baltimore Shines pilot projects were used to learn about barriers preventing solar installation in low-income communities and to inform the development of a sustainable financing model to increase access to solar energy. As the initial step to teaching energy affordability awareness, Baltimore Shines had community residents’ homes retrofitted by its close affiliate, Civic Works, which installed energy and water conservation equipment in homes. This program was not income restricted and is open to any Baltimore City homeowner or tenant residing in a house or apartment. Baltimore Shines also incorporated the development of workforce opportunities for underemployed and unemployed Baltimore residents through job-training and job placement. Additionally, Baltimore Shines leveraged a state funding program - the Maryland Community Solar Pilot program - that supported investments in renewable energy projects benefiting low- and moderate- income customers and encouraged private investment in the state’s solar industry with incentives for the investors. The program ultimately lowered bills, increased wages for some of the City’s low-income, under-employed or unemployed residents, and enhanced access to solar for many throughout the city. 

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