HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition Highlights Connection Between Urban Development and Community Resilience, Says ULI


WASHINGTON – January 27, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — The $1 billion in National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) grants recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is a critical step in helping states and communities across the nation become more resilient to the impacts of climate change, according to the Urban Land Institute (ULI). In addition, the grant proposals and winning applications have highlighted the important connections between urban design and development and improving community resilience.

ULI has worked to strengthen these connections, through the community resilience advice the Institute has provided to many communities in states receiving awards, including Norfolk, Virginia; New York City; several communities in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut; and two NDRC finalists: St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana; and Duluth, Minnesota. Additional panels took place in Northern Colorado; Portland, Maine; and Seattle, Washington; and several more are planned over the next two years.

ULI’s work in these places was provided through the Institute’s highly regarded advisory service panel program, through which ULI members volunteer their expertise to advise communities on how best to address pressing urban growth challenges, including redevelopment and revitalization, in the context of a changing climate. In each case, ULI panelists offer recommendations focused not just on building back, but building better – and linking land-use decisions to future economic, environmental, and social resilience.

ULI leader Jim Heid, founder of UrbanGreen in San Francisco, has chaired several ULI community resilience panels. “As our understanding of resilience has improved, we are seeing innovative approaches to the planning, design, development, financing and insuring of real estate. That was certainly evident with the applicants for the National Disaster Resilience Competition program,” Heid said. “It’s clear that communities are realizing that it is not always possible — or wise — to keep building where, and how, they have always been built. At a time when changing climate and changing economic norms are challenging us daily, we need to think harder, and work smarter, about how we build our neighborhoods and connect our communities. This reality is compelling the real estate industry to partner ever more closely with the public sector and other stakeholders to develop in a way that protects both the built and natural environment, now and into the future, while leading to more vital and thriving places to live.”

ULI’s resilience advisory panels, generously supported by The Kresge Foundation, have produced recommendations tailored to the environmental, economic and demographic specifics of each location, but have all underscored the critical role that thoughtful land use and real estate planning plays in strengthening the community. Recommendations typically focus on strategies that help communities not just withstand severe weather-related events, but which also improve overall livability and spur economic investment. For instance:

In Duluth, ULI advised the city to create a storm water management system that also could serve as a recreational amenity and focal point for revitalization of an under-invested neighborhood;
In St. Tammany Parish, the panel provided recommendations on how to pursue a more compact development pattern and rethink their approach to transportation to ease daily congestion and allow for more efficient evacuation;
In Norfolk, the panel recommended the protection of vulnerable waterfront property as a natural buffer for flooding and sea-level rise that would double as park space for a new mixed-income, mixed-use development centered around public transit.
In Northern Colorado, the panel looked at three very different, nearby communities and emphasized the need for a stronger regional approach to growth – citing that extreme weather events do not respect political boundaries, and each individual community’s economic futures were inextricably linked to the success of their neighbor.
“Improving resilience is about much more than just reducing disaster-related risk. Community resilience needs to address not just environmental factors, but quality of life and economic prosperity,” said Sarene Marshall, executive director of ULI’s Center for Sustainability. “Sustainability, livability, health and prosperity are all necessary components of resilience, and land use patterns link these all together. This holistic view is helping communities think beyond catastrophes and evolve into thriving places with more potential and promise than ever before.”

More information about ULI’s work on community resilience is available at ULI’s Center for Sustainability, and at the Institute’s Advisory Services Program.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 36,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

contact Trish Riggs at 202-624-7086
by Robert Krueger

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