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Before You Apply for STORM Funds

Eligibility

Grant Application Assistance

Capitalization Grant Application Materials

Equity

Eligibility

The Safeguarding Tomorrow Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) awards seed-funding grants for eligible entities to make funding decisions and award loans directly to local communities.

Eligible entities are:

  • States
  • Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia
  • Federally recognized tribes that received a direct major disaster declaration

Loan Recipients

Although communities cannot apply directly to FEMA for capitalization grants, local governments can apply to participating entities for low-interest loans.

Additionally, Indian tribes located within a participating entity (such as a state or territory) may also apply for a loan under a participating entity’s revolving loan fund.

Loan recipients must have an approved hazard mitigation plan. These loans will allow local jurisdictions to reduce vulnerability to hazards, foster greater community resilience and reduce disaster suffering.

Tribal entities may provide a loan to any authorized tribal organization, including a sub-component within their respective governmental structures.

Grant Application Assistance

FEMA continues to engage stakeholders and adds additional input to inform program implementation. Entities should consider their specific program implementation plans and considerations while preparing to apply for the program.

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Entities can email the program team for guidance as they have questions while preparing applications.

Capitalization Grant Application Materials

Initial applications are processed through the Grants.gov portal. Final applications are to be completed and submitted through FEMA’s Non-Disaster (ND Grants) System.

To be eligible, applicants must submit to FEMA’s ND Grants System:

  • Completed Capitalization Grant Application;
  • Intended Use Plan that has been published by the applicant for public review and comment prior to submitting an application. FEMA developed a usable Intended Use Plan templates for eligible entities; and
  • Project Proposal List that results from a public notice of no less than six weeks in length, inviting hazard mitigation project proposals from local governments. A Project Proposal template is available for eligible entities.

Additionally, applicants must:

  • Have a FEMA-approved State or Tribal Hazard Mitigation Plan;
  • Establish a revolving loan fund; and
  • Determine how the entity cost match (10% contribution) will be met.

More detailed eligibility information and application instructions are available within the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on Grants.gov.

For more information, contact FEMA-STORMRLF@fema.dhs.gov.

Intended Use Plan

The entity must develop and provide the Intended Use Plan to the public for comment and review before submitting it with the application. The Intended Use Plan provides information to FEMA about goals for the entity loan fund, the criteria for the distribution of loans, and the process for management of the loan fund.  Entities will be required to update their Intended Use Plan on an annual basis to ensure continued compliance.

The entity’s planned approach to programmatic and financial administration of the loan fund should be documented in the Intended Use Plan.

Topics to be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • Intended applicability of the up to 1% interest rate
  • Loan amortization schedules and repayment timelines
  • Requirements for repayment sources
  • The process for management of the loan fund

When developing their Intended Use Plans, entities are required to include information about how the entity loan fund will target funding for low-income geographic areas and underserved communities with the goal that 40% of the overall benefits generated by the entity loan funds flow to underserved communities. Tribal jurisdictions are considered underserved.

The program will prioritize partnerships between entities for projects which account for larger, regional impacts, or address major economic sectors or infrastructure.  These partnerships are to occur between two eligible entities working together to support a project. Each entity may list these projects on their respective project proposal lists as appropriate.

Entity Loan Fund Administration

Eligible entities must establish a revolving loan fund to be administered by the agency responsible for emergency management and programmatic administration of the entity loan fund, including priority setting and decision making must be retained by the emergency management agency.

Additionally, entities must be aware of the statutory requirements for the entity loan fund financial administration. Financial administration of the entity loan fund may be combined with any other revolving fund established by the entity, if the following occur:

  • Documentation demonstrating partnership with the entity’s emergency management agency is provided in the capitalization grant application;
  • The partnering loan fund is also under the authority of the entity;
  • Amounts tied to the program are accounted for separately from other amounts in the entity loan fund; and
  • An entity cannot delegate financial administration to a financial institution that isn’t under the authority of the entity (e.g., a private institution, including non-profits).

Financial administration for the loan fund includes:

  • Managing loan awards and repayments;
  • Tracking amounts in the entity loan fund, including the capitalization grant, entity share, repayments of loans, and interest earned; and
  • Allocating amounts to each loan recipient not to exceed statutory limits.

Entities may also stipulate and manage specific loan terms, including, but not limited to the establishment of:

  • Incremental disbursements of loan funds for phased projects​
  • Timeframes to categorize delinquent loan repayments

To ensure eligibility, an entity must have a defined process in their application materials which they intend to institute before a grant can be awarded, although actual implementation can happen between application submission and grant award.

Entities must establish the entity loan fund before receiving the award (including any necessary legal authority for their emergency management agency to administer the program or any delegation for financial administration of the fund, etc.) and the fund must be established in alignment with the submitted Intended Use Plan.

Project Proposal List

A well-developed project proposal list affords an entity the opportunity to focus limited loan funds to the local governments most in need of financial assistance, to promote equity, and to prioritize loans for projects ready for financing.

Participating entities will work with their local governments to solicit and select project proposals and will determine which projects and activities will form the list of projects from which the entity will be able to award loans. The entity is required to solicit local governments within their jurisdiction to submit hazard mitigation project proposals via public notice at least six weeks prior to submission of their application. Entities may use the public notice process that best reaches their local communities. Documentation must be included with an application indicating this public notice requirement.

This list will be submitted to FEMA with relevant information as a Project Proposal List. FEMA will review these lists for completeness and alignment with program priorities. An updated list should be submitted to FEMA on an annual basis with the entity’s Intended Use Plan to ensure continued compliance.

Additionally, the Project Proposal List should contain information about whether the loan recipients are within low-income geographic areas and or underserved communities.

There are many tools that are available that can identify an underserved community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Vulnerability Index (SVI), the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), and FEMA’s National Risk Index. Additionally, entities are also allowed to document their approach to defining disadvantaged communities in their Intended Use Plans.

Entities can consider a community underserved using the following criteria:

  • For CDC SVI, underserved communities are defined as census tracts with a score greater than or equal to 0.8. A project can be identified as benefiting an underserved community if at least 50% of the census tracts across the project-benefiting area have a CDC SVI score greater than or equal to 0.8. Refer to the Definitions Section of the Capitalization Grant Application for information on obtaining a CDC SVI score.
  • For CEQ CEJST, underserved communities are defined as census tracts that are identified as “disadvantaged” using the “Explore the map” function found on the CEJST website. A community is considered disadvantaged under the CEJST methodology when they are in census tracts that meet the thresholds for at least one of the tool’s categories of burden, or if they are on land within the boundaries of a federally recognized tribe. In addition, a census tract that is surrounded by disadvantaged communities and is at or above the 50th percentile for low income is also considered disadvantaged. Finally, a project can be identified as benefiting an underserved community if at least 50% of the census tracts across the project-benefiting area are categorized as “disadvantaged” using the CEJST methodology.

PROJECT PROPOSAL PUBLIC NOTICE VS. INTENDED USE PLAN PUBLIC COMMENT AND REVIEW REQUIREMENTS

Public Notice: Project Proposal List

FEMA will require applications to include local government project proposals and documentation showing the entity provided public notice at least six weeks prior to submission of their application which invited local governments within their jurisdiction to submit hazard mitigation project proposals.

Public Comment and Review: Intended Use Plan

The entity’s Intended Use Plan must be provided for public comment and review, and consultation with appropriate government agencies of the State or Indian tribal government, Federal agencies, and interest groups.

Unlike the public notice requirement of six weeks for the project proposal list, there is no specified timeline for the public comment and review of the Intended Use Plan. Entities must provide documentation of having provided the Intended Use Plan for public comment and review.

Allowable Uses and Loan Requirements

FEMA will provide capitalization grants for entities to establish revolving loan funds for mitigation projects and activities to increase resilience and mitigate the impacts of events such as drought, extreme heat, severe storms, wildfires, floods and earthquakes.

This is an opportunity to prioritize low-impact development, wildland-urban interface management, conservation areas, reconnection of floodplain and open space projects.

Allowable uses include:

  • Mitigation Activities: Eligible project types under this program will include activities that mitigate the impact of natural hazards, zoning and land use planning changes, and building code enforcement.
  • Non-Federal Cost-Share: Loans may be used by local governments to satisfy a local government’s non-federal cost-share requirement for other FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs, such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Post Fire, Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities and Flood Mitigation Assistance grant programs.
  • Local Government Technical Assistance: Entities may provide technical assistance to local governments applying for and receiving loans. Technical assistance provided by entities to local governments shall not exceed 5% of the capitalization grant the entity received.
  • Entity Administrative Costs: Entities may use a portion of the capitalization grant for costs associated with administering their revolving loan fund. The statute requires entity loan fund administrative costs shall not exceed the following limits, whichever is greatest: $100,000 per year; 2% of the capitalization grants made in that fiscal year; or 1% of the value of the entity loan fund. 

Build America, Buy America Act (BABAA)

For more information on FEMA's implementation of the Buy America, Build America Act requirements, see FEMA Policy 207-22-0001: Buy American Preference in FEMA Financial Assistance Programs for Infrastructure

To see whether a particular FEMA federal financial assistance program is considered an infrastructure program and thus required to include a Buy America preference, please see Programs and Definitions: Build America, Buy America Act.

Code of Federal Regulations

Loans resulting from a Safeguarding Tomorrow RLF program capitalization grant award are subject to select Title 2 Code of Federal Regulations requirements, including subsections 200.203, 200.216, 200.303, and 200.331-200.333.

States are required to follow the socioeconomic steps in soliciting small and minority businesses, women’s business enterprises and labor surplus area firms. 

Equity

Disasters impact people and communities differently. Every disaster occurs within a unique context based on a community’s geographic, demographic, political, historical and cultural characteristics. FEMA has moved swiftly to instill equity throughout all its work. This can be seen from its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan.

The agency’s work to further integrate equity in our Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs demonstrates its larger ambition to instill equity as an essential piece of resilience. While Safeguarding Tomorrow RLF funds are not disaster based, the program will still prioritize equity when making awards.

The revolving loan funds are intended to reach recipients most in need of financial assistance, including those living in low-income geographic areas and underserved communities. A goal of the program is that 40% of the overall benefits generated by the entity loan funds flow to underserved communities. Entities are asked to describe how they will address these considerations in their Intended Use Plan.

The statute also allows for longer loan repayment timelines for low-income geographic areas. Low-income geographic areas are defined by this criteria:

  • The area has a per capita income of 80% or less of the national average; or  
  • The area has an unemployment rate that is, for the most recent 24-month period for which data are available, at least 1% greater than the national average unemployment rate. 

Refer to the Definitions Section of the Capitalization Grant Application for information how to determine whether a community is considered to be low-income. 

In addition, several aspects of the program, such as allowing loans to be used for non-federal cost sharing for other Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs, are intended to help provide financial assistance to these communities.