Q&A and Resources: Resilience Hubs Learning Session


On September 25, 2023, the Urban Waters Learning Network (UWLN) hosted a learning session entitled, Resilience Hubs as Community Superheroes of Climate Preparedness and Disaster Recovery. The recording, panelist bios, and presentation slides from the event are available on the UWLN resources webpage for the session. This blog post is a follow-up to the session to share resources and address some of the questions that were posed in the chat during the session. Find past recordings and sign up for upcoming opportunities on the Building Water Equity and Climate Resilient Communities for ALL Learning Series page. In response to interest from participants during the webinar, the UWLN is also working on ideas to develop a communication platform and/or peer calls focused on Resilience Hubs and Climate Resilience more generally. Stay tuned! 

Question & Answer

**Answers within the document were provided from the Dec 8 session panelists—Samantha Paladini, Stacey Henry, and Aubrey Germ—as well as River Network Staff, Diana Toledo.

Questions on Funding

Could FEMA become a partner in the efforts to stand up resilience hubs? Perhaps providing grants funding to support local facilities?

  • In 2022, FEMA awarded a $10.58 million BRIC grant to fund a resilience hub in Newark (see description). From our initial research, funding applications for establishing resilience hubs did not fare as well with FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Program, as a handful of proposals were deemed to “not meet HMA requirements” in FY20 and FY21 (in East Portland, OR; US Virgin Islands and New Orleans).
  • FEMA has a BRIC Direct Technical Assistance Program which can support the early stages of developing hazard mitigation plans. This may be a source of support to develop a holistic plan such as Baltimore did, which now provides a framework that supports the Resilience Hubs.

Any thoughts on how to support funding in communities that are historically disinvested and marginalized that might need some additional financial capacity to get these started?

  • In Washington DC’s 7th Ward – which houses a number of neighborhoods that have experienced historic disinvestment – the District’s Department of Energy and Environment is leading an effort to develop resilience hubs that stems from their Climate Ready DC  plan. Learn more about their vision for resilience hubs here, and their detailed proposal for their first hub here

Our 40,000 sq ft community center will be opening in 2026 with the plan to be a resilience hub, including off grid power supply, cooling and warming shelter options, and emergency cots and food for disasters. Does anyone have any connections for funding sources for the specific costs related to these services (ex: $1,000,000 for the generator connection)?

  • I would recommend checking grants.gov for grants opportunities. FEMA, EPA, and other federal agencies may have funding paths for work like this.
  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act created large budgets for community work, so definitely check federal sources 🙂

General Questions: 

Any words of wisdom to community members that want to establish a Hub, but they’re not responding to an immediate and urgent disaster – how can they build awareness and bring value?

  • Holding events such as CPR trainings or giving out emergency preparedness kits  will always be relevant! 
  • Community members can help inform the priority services or support a Resilience Hub can offer.  River Network has worked with organizations using our Community-Led Research process to identify how a Hub could best serve the community.

What if you build it and they don’t come? What elements are important to make sure a Hub is a resource the community trusts in a time of need?

  • All of CREW’s Climate Resilience Hubs start as Engagement Centers. The goal is to reach the community through events and educational services first to establish a relationship with the people and build trust. CREW hubs are all provided with a decal to place on an outwardly facing window so that people know this is a place to learn more about extreme weather preparedness.

How does migration fit into this?

  • There’s been some recent research on climate migration and ways to prepare “receiving communities” for influxes of people (see this policy brief) that includes setting up centralized systems for migrants to access available services.  Resilience Hubs are trusted community resource centers that  could be part of that system, although we are not yet aware of examples of this might be taking place. Hubs could also be a source of information about property buyout programs in those communities that are exploring relocation of residents from flood-prone areas to areas with lower flood risk.

Do any of the presenters have an example or experience in how these resilience hubs have functioned during an emergency response event? (i.e., transportation, communications, resources for displaced individuals)?

  • The majority of CREW’s Climate Resilience Hubs were initiated due to the lack of systems and services provided by larger agencies in their  community during an extreme weather event. CREW currently  works to provide resources to hubs on how to start a contact tree in a neighborhood,  start a list of local resources for those who don’t have shelter once a hub is closed for the day, and other forms of assistance. 

For Samantha – Rural areas are more spread out and a hub location may not be in close proximity to all. Any advice for rural areas, given lack of transit and distance issues?

  • Great question. In this case, it might be a good idea to create a group of volunteers that provide transportation. It does require more communication and more capacity on the hubs’ part (Samantha).

Can resilience hubs be non profits or churches?

  • (Aubrey): Yes – Baltimore’s are all nonprofits / churches.

Can the speakers please talk about how existing community development corporations (CDCs), some of which have sophisticated track records and extensive real estate, are or should be running resilience hubs?

Can you also please explain whether “resilience hub” is a term of art for certain kinds of funding, and if so what a place needs to show in inventory or community engagement to qualify as a hub?

  • There is no formal or legal definition for the term “resilience hub” that I’m aware of – the term  generally describes physical spaces that provide a range of services and community support to meet a broad range of needs that are community-specific. In recent years, the term has gained recognition by many, including funding agencies. The most comprehensive resource on hubs that we’re aware of is USDN’s Guide to Developing Resilience Hubs.

I may have missed this part, but do any of the resilience hubs also support in pushing for adaptation and mitigation efforts?

  • Climate resilience hubs are a major part of adaptation efforts and we’ve found a lot of hub participation in our activities (providing a location to give out ac units, speak at events, etc…) Our program is not as involved in mitigation, but that can certainly be an option if the community is interested in promoting climate advocacy! Sometimes there’s grant limitations though if involved with both.

Resources & Links Shared in Chat

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