Guide to Local Recovery Update: Feb. 8

Feb 8, 2023

Federal agencies are accepting applications for key environmental justice and surface transportation grant programs. Applications for a second round of Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program funding — $1.1 billion — are expected to open in April. The National League of Cities and the Local Infrastructure Hub released several new recovery resources as well.

Environmental Justice grant program now accepting applications 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting applications for an environmental justice grant program. The program funds cross-organizational partnerships that help overburdened and underserved communities address environmental and public health challenges — past, present, and future. The goal of the program is to fund projects that are measurable, community-based, and can be easily replicated.

Approximately $20 million in funding for partnerships between local governments and community-based organizations is anticipated. Local government projects must address one of five broad categories to be eligible for funding, such as urban heat island mitigation or indoor air pollution reduction. The money was appropriated through the Inflation Reduction Act and will fund approximately 20 projects.

Applications are due April 10. Additional resources, including previously funded projects, are available online. 

Surface transportation grant funding to go to both urban and rural areas

The U.S. Department of Transportation is accepting applications for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program. RAISE grants fund surface transportation projects that will have a significant local or regional impact, with a focus on those that address climate change and racial equity concerns.

The program is similar to the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program. The Transportation Department is encouraging local governments to apply for RAISE funding in case their Reconnecting Communities application is unsuccessful. RAISE's eligibility requirements allow project sponsors to obtain funding for projects that are harder to support through other Transportation Department’s grant programs.

RAISE funding will be split equally between urban and rural areas. At least $15 million will go towards projects located in Areas of Persistent Poverty or Historically Disadvantaged Communities. Projects in these areas are eligible for up to 100% federal cost share, as directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Applications are due Feb. 28.

Applications for Safe Streets grant program expected to open in April

The Transportation Department announced a historic $800 million in grant awards to improve the safety of local streets and roads through the Safe Streets and Roads for All Grant Program. This is likely the first of five rounds of funding, which total $5 billion. Applications for the next round of funding — $1.1 billion — are expected to open in April.  The list of awardees includes dozens of California cities and counties

The program funds planning projects and infrastructure projects, making it an ideal program for almost any city. Action plan grants assist communities that do not currently have a roadway safety plan in place to reduce roadway fatalities. Implementation grants provide funding for communities to implement strategies and projects that will reduce or eliminate transportation-related fatalities and serious injuries. 

Several resources are available for cities, including information on implementation, action plan development, and safety strategies. The National League of Cities also launched a related Safety First Challenge to help cities increase road safety. The challenge is part of a national campaign calling upon private and public stakeholders to take specific actions that reduce roadway injuries and deaths.

Housing and infrastructure resources from NLC

The National League of Cities (NLC) released new recovery resources for cities, including an eviction prevention policy and program tool. City officials can use the interactive resource to develop relevant policies and programs based on their geography, city size, and the targeted stage of the eviction process. The collected data represents over 600 actions taken by 200 cities nationwide and will be updated over time.

NLC is also collecting information for a related campaign: the Housing Supply Accelerator. The accelerator will bring together local governments, builders, financial institutions, federal partners, and other stakeholders to develop, align, and advance solutions for housing supply challenges at the local level. NLC is currently seeking information about local housing supply challenges and policy pathways. 

Additionally, NLC released a report on the impact of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and the American Rescue Plan Act on local governments. The report found that even with new federal funding opportunities, local leaders face varying state regulatory requirements that limit their ability to respond to these opportunities quickly. The report takes a detailed look at the interplay of state policies and local infrastructure policies and outlines several policy options for city leaders. 

Local Infrastructure Hub infrastructure webinars 

The Local Infrastructure Hub — a partnership between several local government associations — announced a slate of recovery webinars.

On Feb. 14, policy experts will discuss some of the major funding opportunities for drinking water and stormwater mitigation in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as related regulations. The session will also examine funding for lead pipes, the water-energy nexus, and emerging contaminants.

During a Feb. 28 webinar, local officials learn how to maximize community benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act, including consumer-facing tax credits, building retrofits, and clean energy conversion. Speakers will also discuss the technical assistance and resources available for local leaders to unlock the full potential of the law and move forward on their climate priorities.

Local officials will learn how other cities are transitioning to low- or zero-emission buses during a May 15 webinar. Guests will share their lessons and advice for cities as they prepare to submit applications to the Federal Transit Administration's Low or No Emission Vehicle program.

City officials looking for additional information about the American Rescue Plan Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act, or additional recovery tools can visit the Cal Cities Guide to Local Recovery portal