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HUD prioritises environment and economic equity in block grants

HUD prioritises environment and economic equity in block grants

WASHINGTON (AP), The Department of Housing and Urban Development released new guidelines for disbursing $2 billion in disaster relief block grants. They placed emphasis on climate change mitigation and equity for communities that are underserved.

Monday’s Federal Register publication included new guidelines that outline specific priorities for local and state agencies that receive Community Development Block Grants.

Last year, the funds were used to help in disaster relief efforts in 10 states and territories. These include wildfires in California and a Michigan dam collapse, Hurricane Zeta in Mississippi and earthquakes and Tropical Storm Isaias at Puerto Rico.

Block grants have traditionally been flexible enough for local authorities and recipients to choose where to direct the funds based on the nature of the disaster. Wildfires are known to destroy large numbers of buildings and homes, while hurricanes and storms can cause the most severe damage to infrastructure such as bridges and sewers.

HUD will retain most of this flexibility, but HUD now directs recipient agencies to prioritize long term environmental resilience and serving historically marginalized populations. These guidelines were expected and Marcia L. Fudge, HUD Secretary, spoke of them when grants were first announced in December 2021.

Fudge stated that the funds would be disbursed to reflect President Joe Biden’s emphasis on climate justice in hard-hit communities and building long-term, inclusive resilience to the effects of climate change, especially for marginalized and underserved communities.

Michael Burns, a spokesperson for HUD, stated that the agency is trying to define underserved areas as areas that were economically damaged before the disaster, and populations that have been denied full participation in economic, civic, and social life.

All new construction funded through grants must be built according to green standards, which emphasize energy efficiency and resilience to similar disasters in the future.

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