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Integrating Climate Change Resilience Into HUD’s Disaster Recovery Program

April 2016

Citation: 46 ELR 10282

Issue: 4

Author: Justin Gundlach and Channing Jones

A changing climate means that storms, floods, wildfires, and even coastlines cannot be expected to adhere to historical patterns. Federal agencies responsible for risk management and disaster recovery have begun giving priority to this fact, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is among them. But HUD has just one foot in the boat—the other foot is still on the dock. The agency currently only integrates climate change resilience considerations into its approval of projects seeking Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds insofar as it has sometimes voiced clear support for a “build back better” approach. Yet HUD’s statutory authority enables it to more definitively and systemically support projects aimed at improving resilience and adapting to climate change. This Comment argues for carrying this potential reconciliation forward into future disaster recovery contexts and also into other HUD programs that relate in less obvious ways to disaster recovery and resilience to climate change, and proposes several ways the agency might do so.

Justin Gundlach is a post-doctoral Climate Law Fellow and Channing Jones is a Research Assistant, both at Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

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