HUD Doesn't Need New Legislative Authority to Better Integrate Climate Change Resilience into Its Disaster Recovery Program

Gundlach, Justin M.; Jones, Channing R.

This article examines the interaction between the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s community development block grant disaster recovery program (CDBGDR) and the federal and state governments' resilience and climate adaptation priorities. It identifies and analyzes the statutes that have guided HUD's approach to date, by considering both key statutory language and legislative history. It also examines forms of "soft guidance" issued by HUD for use by various stakeholders, including both HUD CDBG-DR program officers and the state and local officials that interact with them. In reviewing this material, the article identifies a tension between the requirement that all projects funded by CDBG-DR "tie back" to the most recent disaster, and the logic of resilience, which holds that one should always build or rebuild with an eye to the next disaster. There are some signs of reconciliation: Rebuild By Design and the National Disaster Resilience Competition promote resilience to future disasters—at least in the context of recovery from Hurricane Sandy—and HUD appears to be taking action on climate change through its Climate Adaptation Plan and newly formed Climate Council. The article 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.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School
Published Here
February 6, 2016