HUD Announces Measures to Combat Climate Change

In response to President Joe Biden’s efforts to unite the whole of the federal government into combating climate change, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday announced its efforts to try and mitigate the impacts of climate change. This is according to an announcement released by the Department.

“With the Climate Adaptation Plan, HUD is taking an agency-wide approach in prioritizing climate resilience because we cannot put America on the path to building a stronger and more sustainable housing infrastructure without addressing the impacts of climate change,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge in a statement announcing the initiatives.

Detailing some of the justifications for HUD’s involvement in such a plan, the Department explains that federal agencies and the populations they serve all face risks that are associated with climate change. Some of these risks have a direct bearing on issues within the purview of HUD, including housing stability.

“This includes rising costs to maintain and repair damaged infrastructure from more frequent and extreme weather events and health and safety challenges to the communities across the country,” HUD said in its announcement. “Acting now to manage climate risk will increase the resilience of communities to wildfires, extreme heat, tropical storms, heavy rains, and other disasters made worse by a changing climate.”

It was these emerging ideas which led President Biden to craft a whole-of-government approach to combating climate change, the Department explained.

“Through this approach, agencies developed adaptation and resilience plans, called ‘climate action plans,’ to address their most significant climate risks and vulnerabilities,” the statement reads. “HUD’s plan seeks to drive innovation, increase resilience to climate change, and support the President’s commitment to implementing his Justice40 Initiative. The climate action plans were developed in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.”

HUD is one of only 23 federal agencies developing plans for the express purpose of combating or mitigating the effects of global climate change. Vulnerable populations that are directly served by HUD tend to be at greater risk of harm when a climate event or natural disaster occurs, the statement said.

“HUD will update Disaster Recovery and Mitigation grant requirements to promote resilience and environmental justice, ensuring that communities recovering from disasters are more resilient in the future,” the announcement said of one measure it has designed. “HUD will also strengthen its floodplain management regulations to focus on increasing flood resilience, promoting environmental justice, improving fiscal security, and minimizing adverse impacts to the beneficial functions of floodplains and wetlands.”

While not specifically cited in the announcement, the impact of environmental events can have a disproportionate impact on the senior population. This past June when the regularly temperate Seattle area experienced what has previously been described as a “once-in-a-millennium” heat event, 112 deaths were attributed to the heat largely attributed to a general lack of air conditioning in Pacific Northwest homes – including three seniors in one dwelling – according to reporting by Seattle-area NPR affiliate KUOW.

Thousands of people between the state of Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia checked into the regions’ emergency rooms due to heat-related illnesses, according to the reporting.

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