HUD Announces $1 Billion Competition for Disaster Recovery Ideas


As the recent National Climate Assessment made clear, extreme weather events—including heat waves, drought, tropical storms, high winds, storm surges, and heavy downpours—are becoming more severe. In many places these risks are projected to increase substantially due to rising sea levels and evolving development patterns, affecting the safety, health, and economy of entire communities. Extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy have made it clear that we remain vulnerable to such events in spite of advances in disaster preparedness. American communities cannot effectively reduce their risks and vulnerabilities without including future extreme events and other impacts of climate change in their planning both before and after a disaster, and in everyday decision-making.


The National Disaster Resilience Competition will make $1 billion available to communities that have been struck by natural disasters in recent years. The competition will promote risk assessment and planning and will fund the implementation of innovative resilience projects to better prepare communities for future storms and other extreme events. Funding for the competition is from the Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) appropriation provided by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 (PL 113-2).

Given the complexity of the challenge, helping communities build toward a more resilient future requires innovation, broad commitment, and a multi-faceted approach. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Rebuild by Design (RBD) effort is a successful model of how the federal government can begin to support communities recovering from disasters while also strengthening their ability to withstand future disasters.

All successful applicants will need to tie their proposals to the eligible disaster from which they are recovering. For example, a proposed suite of building code changes, infrastructure audits, and pilot green infrastructure investments will need to address unmet needs from the eligible past disaster, but also better prepare a community to address all the vulnerabilities and risks that they face going forward.

Eligible Applicants

There are 67 eligible applicants for the $1 billion National Disaster Resilience Competition. All states with counties that experienced a Presidentially Declared Major Disaster in 2011, 2012 or 2013 will be eligible to apply. This includes 48 of 50 states plus Puerto Rico and Washington, DC. [1] In addition, 17 local governments that have received funding under PL 113-2 are also eligible. You can find a list of eligible grantees here

For 2011 -2013 Indiana has 2 separate declarations covering a total of 36 counties.  From the FEMA site these are:

DR-1997:  Indiana Severe Storms, Tornadoes, Straight-Line Winds, and Flooding
Incident period: April 19, 2011 to June 6, 2011
Major Disaster Declaration declared on June 23, 2011

DR-4058:  Indiana Severe Storms, Straight-line Winds, and Tornadoes
Incident period: February 29, 2012 to March 3, 2012
Major Disaster Declaration declared on March 9, 2012

The most recent declaration if Indiana is apparently not eligible under this program because it occurred in 2014:
DR-4173:  Indiana Severe Winter Storm and Snowstorm
Incident period: January 5, 2014 to January 9, 2014
Major Disaster Declaration declared on April 22, 2014

 The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) will have to be the applicant from Indiana for these funds.


The Competition seeks to meet the following six objectives:

  1. Fairly and effectively allocate $1 billion in remaining CDBG-DR funds.[2]
  2. Create multiple examples of modern disaster recovery that apply science-based and forward-looking risk analysis to address recovery, resilience, and revitalization needs.
  3. Leave a legacy of institutionalizing—in as many states and local jurisdictions as possible—the implementation of thoughtful, sound, and resilient approaches to addressing future risks.
  4. Provide resources to help communities plan and implement disaster recovery that makes them more resilient to future extreme weather events or other shocks, while also improving quality of life for existing residents.
  5. Fully engage community stakeholders to inform them about the impacts of climate change and develop pathways to resilience based on sound science.
  6. Leverage investments from the philanthropic community to help communities define problems, set policy goals, explore options, and craft solutions to inform their own local and regional resilient recovery strategies.

Overview of Phases

The National Disaster Resilience Competition will be a year-long competition structured in two phases: (1) risk assessment and planning; and (2) design and implementation. Many communities will be eligible for funding and technical assistance during Phase 1. Our goal is to get resources to communities to help them develop innovative, data-driven, and community-led approaches to recover from their disasters and increase resilience to future threats. We plan to reserve funds for applicants even if they just compete in Phase 1 of the competition to encourage broad participation. A subset of these communities will be invited to continue in Phase 2 to design solutions for recovery and future resilience. The best proposals will receive funds for implementation and will demonstrate how communities across the country can build a more resilient future.

Phase 1: Risk Assessment and Planning Activities
During Phase 1, applicants will:

  • Broadly engage with the community and consult with experts to identify the most impacted communities, unmet recovery needs, and revitalization objectives.
  • Discover the most significant vulnerabilities and future risks facing the affected communities using the best available science and data.
  • Identify opportunities for regional collaboration or multi-state approaches.
  • Engage potential public and private partners.
  • Commit to actions that permanently increase community resilience (e.g., building code updates, integration of Hazard Mitigation and Consolidated Plans, etc.)
  • Propose innovative approaches to address unmet disaster needs that deliver resilience to future disasters and multiple benefits (e.g., economic revitalization, job creation, community amenities)

Phase 2: Design and Implementation
At the end of Phase 2, HUD will make multiple grants to winning applications. During Phase 2, applicants will:

  • Continue to engage with the community and consult with experts.
  • Refine designs for solutions that address the impacts, risks and vulnerabilities identified in Phase 1.
  • Solidify partnerships with public and private partners.
  • Demonstrate the feasibility and effectiveness of design innovations.
  • Be funded to implement innovative projects and designs, if selected as winners.

NOTE: Requirements for application will be published in a forthcoming Notice of Funding Availability as required by the HUD Reform Act and those specific requirements will supersede any previously published statements or guidance.

[1] Nevada and South Carolina did not have major disaster declarations between 2011-2013.
[2] Public Law 113-2 appropriated $16.0B ($15.2B post-sequester) to HUD in CDBG-DR funds for r disaster relief, long-term recovery, restoration of infrastructure and housing, and economic revitalization. By law, these funds are limited to addressing Presidentially Declared Disasters from 2011-2013. HUD has until 9/30/17 to obligate all funds.

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