What to Know About FEMA BRIC’s $2.3B Available for Hazard Mitigation Projects
Natural disasters have become somewhat regular events in recent years as evidenced by massive wildfires, extended periods with no rainfall and hotter than normal temperatures, flooding across multiple states, and of course hurricanes and tornadoes. But the uptick in natural disasters has been followed by larger federal investments in hazard mitigation for all types of disasters. FEMA defines hazard mitigation as, “any sustainable action that reduces or eliminates long-term risk to people and property from future disasters.”
FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant program (BRIC), is now starting its third funding cycle with the recent release of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). In the fiscal year 2022, BRIC will make available $2.295 billion to states, territories, tribes, and local governments as sub-applicants under their respective states or territories. According to the NOFO:
“For FY 2022, the priorities for the program are to incentivize natural hazard risk reduction activities that mitigate risk to public infrastructure and disadvantaged communities…; incorporate nature-based solutions including those designed to reduce carbon emissions; enhance climate resilience and adaptation; and increase funding to applicants that facilitate the adoption and enforcement of the latest published editions of building codes. BRIC encourages hazard mitigation projects that meet multiple program priorities.”
The BRIC program has a deep focus on large-scale resilient infrastructure projects. At the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) mid-year forum in Alexandria, VA FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell discussed the BRIC program and called it an opportunity to make “generational investments.” The BRIC program expanded FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program by adding consistent funding, and more eligible activities. For those communities that may struggle financially to pay for the upfront scoping costs, FEMA has made project scoping activities eligible to assist communities in funding necessary scoping activities to develop a construction ready project for future funding cycles. Examples of project scoping activities range from developing hazard mitigation projects and alternatives, including engineering design and feasibility studies, to conducting hydrologic and hydraulic studies.
The program is incredibly competitive. Each state gets a set-aside of funds to use on a limited number of projects. Once the state exceeds the set-aside, projects go to the national competition. The maximum federal share per project application was $50 million in previous funding years. Building codes and community BCEGS ratings come into play when applications are reviewed and prioritized. Pay close attention to the Qualitative and Technical Review Criteria from the FY2020 and FY2021 funding cycles when preparing an application before the FY2022 NOFO. I’ve heard from several that have served on the review panels that your application must clearly show how you’ve met the criteria if you want to have a chance of selection.
FEMA is looking for innovation. That regional mitigation project you’ve dreamed up but never pursued? That is BRIC. The project your community, county, or watershed needs but could never find the local funds? That’s BRIC. The flood mitigation project not only reduces flooding but also incorporates green infrastructure and specific components that reduce extreme heat and support water quality? That’s BRIC. FEMA is looking for generational investments. Now is the time to collaborate with neighboring communities, counties, Tribes, the state, and the private sector. Partnerships help increase the likelihood FEMA selects your project for funding.
BRIC Grant Program Highlights
- Applications will be accepted by FEMA from September 30, 2022 through January 27, 2023.
- Each State/Territory will have intermediate deadlines for application input into the FEMA GO grants management system.
- FEMA is holding a series of webinars on Hazard Mitigation and Funding. Register here for one or more.
- Each applicant must have a current, FEMA-approved Hazard Mitigation Plan.
- All construction projects must be shown to be cost effective by completing a Benefits-Cost Analysis resulting in a Benefits-Cost Ration of greater than 1.0.
If your plan is expired, FEMA’s BRIC program can pay for the update and help you prepare for future BRIC funding cycles. With the historic increases in FEMA Pre-Disaster Mitigation funding, every county, municipality, school district, and any other special district would benefit from developing a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan.
The next thing to keep in mind is your local match. The BRIC program typically has a 25 percent local cost share requirement. Certain communities may be eligible for an increased federal cost share if they meet the requirements of being an economically disadvantaged rural community, also known as small and impoverished communities. In this case, the cost share is up to 90 percent federal/10 percent non-federal.
The BRIC program is one of several federal programs participating in the Justice40 Initiative. Justice40 prioritizes federal investments benefitting underserved communities. The initiative aims to deliver at least 40% of the overall program benefits to disadvantaged communities. Keep this in mind when identifying a good project within your community and consider using publicly available tools such as the CDC Social Vulnerability Index, National Risk Index (NRI), and the FEMA Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool (RAPT) assist.
How Freese and Nichols Can Help
Now is the time to prepare for the upcoming BRIC funding cycle to invest in your community infrastructure and mitigate against natural hazards. Here is how we can help:
- Assistance creating or updating your Hazard Mitigation Plan
- Project scoping, mapping assistance, and cost estimations
- Project environmental studies that are compliant with NEPA
- Assistance with procurement requirements
- Assistance with applications
- Design and construction management
For more information, reach out to Freese and Nichols’ Mitigation and Disaster Planning Lead Annie Vest, Hazard Mitigation Specialist Jonah Vasquez, Funding Specialist Mark Evans, or contact your Freese and Nichols project manager.
For more on BRIC, register for our presentation on September 14: How To and Tips and Tricks for a Successful BRIC Application