The Community Development Block Grant Program provides financial assistance to communities to address community development needs such as quality affordable housing, services for at-risk citizens, and expansion and retention of businesses. The program can also provide grants for disaster recovery assistance following presidential disaster declarations, in which the program funds emergency or temporary housing efforts for any citizens who have been displaced during a disaster. The award of CDBG funds can have a strong influence on future development within an area and thus can significantly impact community flood risk management. The program is flexible in terms of amount and type of assistance provided, which is delivered through annual grants on a formula basis to local governments and states. The formula used to determine grant amounts takes into account factors such as the extent of poverty within a community, population, overcrowding, aging housing infrastructure, and lack of population growth.
The Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants Program provides financial assistance to communities to support collaborative efforts to enhance housing, economic development, and infrastructure investments. The program emphasizes partnerships across a broad range of interests including arts, health, food systems, regional planning, and education. The program is also participates in the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a federal partnership that brings together multiple agencies to leverage and coordinate federal investments. Several policy priorities guide SCRP investments, including job creation, sustainability, fair housing, capacity building, and interdisciplinary policy knowledge. While the program does not specifically address floodplain management, grant funds can support community development projects in areas such as stormwater management that can influence coastal flood risk.
The Home Investment Partnership Program provides formula grants to states and local governments in order to increase housing opportunities for low-income citizens. The program is the largest of its kind in the United States, delivering approximately $2 billion in assistance annually. Grants can used to fund activities such as the purchase, construction, or rehabilitation of affordable housing or may be used to provide direct financial assistance to low-income citizens for rental properties. Financial assistance can take the form of grants, direct loans, loan guarantees, credit enhancements, or rental deposits, and communities are given flexibility in administering the program to meet unique needs and priorities. Similar to other HUD programs, HOME has a nexus to coastal flood risk through the development incentives associated with the award of grant funds.
The U.S. Department of Transportation oversees a number of transportation infrastructure improvement and recovery programs that provide technical and financial assistance to states and local governments. The Federal-aid Highway Program provides support to state highway systems through financial assistance for construction, maintenance, and operations. The Highway Bridge Program is tasked with improving the condition of highway bridges throughout the United States, providing funding for replacement, rehabilitation, and preventative maintenance. Following natural disasters, the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program provides financial assistance to repair highways, roads, and trails, coordinating with other federal agencies that provide similar services. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act Program (TIFIA) provides credit financing for large transportation infrastructure projects such as highways, passenger rail, or intelligent transit systems, and the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program supports airport planning and development through technical and financial assistance. Each of these programs has a nexus to floodplain management through the role that siting of critical transportation infrastructure plays in coastal development. DOT has recognized this nexus in its 1979 order “Floodplain Management and Protection”, which addresses the requirements of EO 11988. The order directs infrastructure programs to avoid encroachments, minimize impacts, and restore and preserve beneficial values of floodplains when planning infrastructure projects. FEMA maps are used to determine any encroachment on floodplains in the planning process.
The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates in western states, oversees the Safety of Dams (SOD) and Safety Evaluation of Existing Dams (SEED) programs for dams that are owned by the bureau. The focus of the SOD program is the evaluation and implementation of actions to resolve safety issues at dams managed by the Bureau. If an issue is identified the Bureau will conduct studies and take corrective action to address the problem based on potential environmental risks and liabilities. The SEED program coordinates site evaluations of existing dams to identify those that may pose a risk to public safety. If such a dam is identified, SEED will expedite analyses and take corrective actions to protect public safety and natural resources. Each of these programs is guided by the mission of the Bureau, which includes managing water resource facilities to enhance conditions for fish, wildlife, land, and cultural resources as well as protecting the public and environment through adequate maintenance and appropriate operation of dams.
The Conservation Reserve Program, the largest private-land conservation program in the United States, is a voluntary land conservation program that enables farmers, ranchers, and agricultural producers to preserve the ecological value of environmentally sensitive privately-owned lands. The program functions through contracts with landowners that provide a yearly rental payment in exchange for the removal of ecologically valuable land from agricultural production along with the enhancement of beneficial plant species. Contracts are 10-15 years in length, and agricultural land is eligible under a number of initiatives designed to improve water quality, prevent soil erosion, and supplement wildlife habitat. Similar to other easement programs, CRP does not address floodplain management directly, but initiatives within the program that address floodplain wetlands and highly erodible land provide opportunities to augment sound floodplain management practices.
Next section: State Coastal Flood Risk Management Case Studies