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HUD prioritizes economic equity and environment in grants

HUD prioritizes economic equity and environment in 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 of the new guidelines outlines specific priorities for state and local agencies receiving Community Development Block Grants.

The funds were allocated lastyear to aid in the relief efforts for natural disasters that occurred in 2020 in 10 US 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, for example, tend to largely destroy homes and buildings, while storms or hurricanes often cause the greatest damage to infrastructure like sewers and electricity grids.

HUD will preserve most of the flexibility, but HUD has now directed recipient agencies to prioritise long-term environmental resilience as well as serving traditionally marginalized communities. 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 underserved or marginalized communities.”

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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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