Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it would release a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund program before the end of the year.
The Safeguarding Tomorrow through Ongoing Risk Mitigation (STORM) Act became law on Jan. 1, 2021, and authorizes FEMA to provide capitalization grants to states, eligible federally recognized tribes, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to establish revolving loan funds that provide hazard mitigation assistance for local governments to reduce risks from natural hazards and disasters.
The revolving loan fund will enable counties to bypass the federal grant application process, expediting local projects that can improve overall community resilience. These low-interest loans will allow jurisdictions to reduce vulnerability to natural disasters, foster greater community resilience, and reduce disaster suffering.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivers $100 million annually for the program for the next five years. Additionally, $50 million will be made available in capitalization grants for low-interest loans to local governments to reduce vulnerability to hazards and increase community resilience.
According to the National Association of Counties (NACo):
FEMA plans to hold a series of listening sessions to gauge interest in the opportunity and barriers to implementing this program. NACo will update this blog once the dates and times of the listening sessions are published.
NACo is also working on a webinar that will focus on the program and how counties can work with our partners in the state legislatures to develop these revolving loan funds. Examples of legislation passed in Louisiana and Maryland can be found below, along with a broader example of how to craft the legislation.
In 2021, Maryland established the Resilient Maryland Revolving Loan Fund to provide low- or no-interest loans for local resilience projects that address mitigation of all hazards, including natural disasters. The Maryland Department of Emergency Management (MDEM) administers the fund.
MACo supported legislation to establish the program because local governments often face challenges accessing capital and financing for community resilience projects and justifying the upfront costs to taxpayers. That’s because building resilience, a long-term need, competes for limited local resources against other, more immediate priorities – like education, public health, public safety, and other essential services – and determining and communicating long-term benefits can be challenging.
This year, MACo supported legislation to bolster Maryland’s Resilient Maryland Revolving Loan Fund by authorizing county governments to provide loans to private property owners for hazard mitigation projects.
Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.