Strategies to Address Climate Change Risk in Low- and Moderate-income Communities

Volume 14, Issue 1 | October 17, 2019

This issue of the Community Development Innovation Review offers strategies that address climate change risk in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities. As these communities begin to grapple with a changing environment, strategic investments can increase resiliency and support adaptation while simultaneously advancing community development priorities. The articles in this issue of the Review consider these investment opportunities from a diverse set of community, financial, economic, and academic perspectives.

Article Citation

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. 2019. “Strategies to Address Climate Change Risk in Low- and Moderate-Income Communities,” Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Community Development Innovation Review 2019-1. doi: 10.24148/cdir2019-01

Table of Contents


Ian Galloway

Climate Adaptation and Community Development

Jesse M. Keenan

A central hallmark of adaptation is about building a capacity for not only managing risks (i.e., moderating negative effects) but also for taking advantage of beneficial opportunities. As such, climate adaptation and community development are uniquely aligned in that capacity building has been a central tenet of community development.

Flood Risk and Structural Adaptation of Markets: An Outline for Action

Michael D. Berman

Current flood risk assessment tools are too blunt and outdated to accurately measure flood risk and the impact of hazard mitigation investments. As the frequency and severity of floods in the U.S. continues to increase due to climate change, the shortcomings of our current tools will be increasingly insufficient to quantify flood risk.

Real Estate as a Tool for Adaptive Banking

Asaf Bernstein, Matthew Gustafson, and Ryan Lewis

By aligning the performance of loans with long-term property values, Coasean bargaining suggests that banks could be incentivized to subsidize adaptive projects when doing so provides a net benefit to the community.

Rebuild to Fail or Rebuild to Adapt: How CRA Lending Can Guide Climate Change Disaster Response

Mark Northcross

Wildfire risk mitigation plans can be a model for promoting adaptive reconstruction after climate change-related natural disasters. This approach represents a middle ground between disaster recovery and long-term risk associated with climate change

Insurance Innovation and Community-Based Adaptation Finance

Shalini Vajjhala and James Rhodes

Governments traditionally act as “insurers of last resort.” When disaster strikes, vulnerable communities turn to local, state, and federal government agencies for support and recovery assistance. More recently, as the frequency and severity of various disasters—from severe storms and floods to wildfires—have grown, the gap between who has financial protection in the form of insurance and who does not has also grown. As a result, many government agencies have found themselves being expected to act as insurers of first resort.

Forest Finance Unlocks Opportunities for Rural Communities: Exploring the Triple Bottom Line Impacts of the Forest Resilience Bond Model

Nathalie Woolworth and Zach Knight

The Forest Resilience Bond promises to accelerate the pace and scale at which critical work to restore the health and functioning of the nation’s forested landscapes is undertaken. It does so by engaging private capital to cover the upfront cost of activities to improve forest health and by bringing together stakeholders that benefit from this work to share in the cost of reimbursing investors over time.

Community Resilience and Adaptive Capacity: A Meaningful Investment Across Assets

Natalie Ambrosio and Yoon Kim

Every investment, from real assets to corporate initiatives, is inextricably connected to the surrounding community. Thus, understanding how acute and chronic physical climate hazards will affect local communities and how these communities are responding enables investors to assess the full extent of the risks they face. This, in turn, cannot be done without considering a community’s adaptive capacity, which mediates the impacts of climate hazards on communities and local infrastructure and has major implications for business continuity.

Hunting for Money: U.S. Cities Need a System for Financing Climate Resilience and Adaptation

John Cleveland, Jon Crowe, Lois DeBacker, Trine Munk, and Peter Plastrik

The growing number of studies and emerging innovations in climate resilience and adaptation financing for cities is setting the stage for developing a comprehensive system—a set of standardized products and services, practices and tools—that is able to overcome key barriers and to take advantage of opportunities posed by climate change.

Climigration and the Private Sector

A.R. Siders and Carri Hulet

As the effects of climate change grow more severe, millions of people in the United States and around the world will relocate away from hazards. This climate-induced relocation, or “climigration,” will have significant consequences for the private sector.

Building Community Wealth through Community Resilience

Johanna Bozuwa and Thomas Hanna

Climate resilience and adaptation planning efforts often operate within a traditional political economic paradigm focused on risk, including climate risk. Often, these planning exercises do not adequately deal with underlying structural concerns, such as political enfranchisement, economic inequality, racism, and unrestrained growth. These and other problems have not only contributed to anthropogenic climate change, but they have exacerbated its impacts on those most marginalized, including minority and low-income residents.

Building on Shared Values to Engage with Mainers on Climate Change

Elizabeth Rogers, Anna Brown, and Keith Bisson

Cultivating the adaptive capacity to respond to changing conditions, including economic shocks and stresses, is central to adaptation. As Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) increases its knowledge and understanding of the economic and environmental implications of climate change, the organization is poised to better assist entrepreneurs in preparing for different climate conditions in their future.

Embracing the Challenge of Climate Education and Engagement

Caroline Lewis

Given their exposure to climate-related events, the Greater Miami and Southeast Florida regions serve as a climate laboratory for ingenuity and problem solving. Working with climate scientists and scores of governmental, business, academic, and community leaders, the CLEO Institute creates multiple access points to engage diverse audiences in understanding the climate crisis and to embrace scalable solutions.

America Adapts: The Value of Podcasting in Climate Communications

Doug Parsons and Dan Ackerstein

People are desperate to learn about the world around them. The central challenge for technical subjects like climate change is that much of that learning must happen in nontechnical ways. Even adaptation professionals are looking for avenues to understand adaptation outside of formal webinars and scientific reports. Podcasts offer a potentially impactful mechanism to disseminate substantive information to a broad array of audiences.

Healthy Aging: A Conceptual Model of Community-based Solutions in the Face of Climate Change and Global Demographic Changes

Seciah Aquino, Josefina Flores Morales, Max Aung, Mary Keovisai, and Jennifer K. McGee-Avila

Climate change and shifting demographic patterns require innovative ideas about how to build and adapt community infrastructure that helps older individuals thrive. Urban planners, and community investors will need to consider aging populations as they think about how the built environment can promote healthy local communities in the face of a changing climate that has acute and unique consequences for individuals aged 65 and over.

The Critical Role for Young People and Schools in Resiliency Planning

Deborah McKoy, Amanda Eppley, and Shirl Buss

Demographers predict that people under the age of 18 will comprise 60 percent of the population of U.S. cities by 2030. Despite this trend, recognizing the critical role that young people and schools can play as stakeholders in community planning—especially with respect to climate resilience and adaptation—continues to be a major blind spot for policy makers.

Drawing a New Roadmap: The Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge

Allison Brooks

The Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge confronted key questions in the community development field, ranging from how to engage at-risk populations in critical decisions concerning their future safety to why municipalities should consider resilience and adaptation when planning infrastructure upgrades and where to get the money to be proactive, rather than reactive, about climate change.

Promoting Equitable Climate Adaptation through Community Engagement

Kokei Otosi

Design interventions of nearly any scale will inevitably intersect with social structures and other invisible forces at play. The success or failure of urban climate-adaptive design cannot be understood strictly on the basis of how such augmentation performs against climate conditions. Rather, design must fundamentally consider the human experience now and in the future.

Investing in the Virtuous Cycle

Robert Freudenberg

Outside the context of extreme storms like Sandy, heavier precipitation events, compromised water and air quality, warmer temperatures, and sea level rise are increasingly taking their toll on communities, aging infrastructure, and stressed natural systems. As the Fourth National Climate Assessment highlights, all of these adverse impacts disproportionately affect low-income communities, which comprise about one-third of the population of the New York City metropolitan area.

Pre- and Post-Disaster Investments in Housing and Community Development Under the CRA

Laurie Schoeman

The CRA has become a catalytic tool for encouraging banks and nonprofit lenders to pioneer strategies to increase private investment in underserved communities and to make low- and moderate-income communities whole in the face of disinvestment, economic downtown, and lack of access to opportunity. The CRA should be expanded to recognize that investments made in these communities can simultaneously serve to advance community resilience and the adaptive capacity of a broad set of community stakeholders and institutions.