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When You Apply: Things to Know and Do When Applying for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds

Application Process (Steps 1-3)

Nature-Based Solutions

Showing Cost Effectiveness

Tips and Tools

Additional Resources

This page provides information for state, local, tribal and territorial governments who are applying for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding. If you are a home or business owner, check out the property owners webpage.

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Application Process

Follow these steps when applying for HMGP grants:

Step 1. Project Scoping

The overarching goal is to propose a project that will reduce or eliminate long-term risk. Project scoping helps develop a preferred project alternative that is documented through the process. During that process, the applicant seeks to determine technical feasibility, cost effectiveness for a given project, and identification of environmental planning and historic preservation (EHP) and other regulatory compliance needs.

To be eligible for funding, all of the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program eligibility requirements must meet the minimum project criteria in 44 CFR Section 206.434(c). Address program eligibility requirements at the earliest point in the decision-making process.

Step 2. Project Development

During the project development process, the sub-applicant should refine the mitigation activity in areas of technical feasibility, cost-effectiveness and EHP and other regulatory requirements. This refined project proposal must be documented in the application and include basic requirements such as a detailed Scope of Work, Schedule or project implementation timeline, and a Cost Estimate or budget, along with a cost-effectiveness determination. The project application should identify the hazard of concern and clearly demonstrate how the proposed project will reduce risk from such a hazard.

Step 3. Project Submission

You should identify risks or problems and examine alternative solutions during the mitigation planning process. Consider all program requirements at the beginning stages of project development to make sure that all requirements are met.

The applicant must submit all sub-applications to FEMA within 12 months of the date of the presidential major disaster declaration. Upon written request and justification from the applicant, FEMA may extend the application submission timeline in 30- to 90-day increments, not to exceed 180 days. For more information, see 44 CFR Section 206.436.

States, territories, federally-recognized tribes, local communities and certain private nonprofit organizations all can sponsor an application on behalf of individuals. These sponsors are  the official  applicants or subapplicants.

Eligible project types are detailed in the Hazard Mitigation Assistance Guidance. The included list is not an all-inclusive, but includes an “other” category to allow for innovative project types that clearly demonstrate their risk reduction potential. All projects must:

  • Be cost-effective
  • Reduce or eliminate risk and damage from future natural hazards
  • Meet either of the two latest International Building Codes (i.e. 2015 or 2018) if applicable
  • Align with the applicable hazard mitigation plan
  • Meet all environmental and historic preservation (EHP) requirements

Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) Requirements

Compliance with all applicable Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) laws, executive orders  and regulations to assess potential impacts of a proposed project on affected physical, cultural (historic and archaeological), biological, and social resources is a condition of Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding. Consequently, all HMGP project subapplications must undergo an EHP review as part of FEMA’s eligibility review process prior to award.

In some cases, during the application review process, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires FEMA and other federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of multiple alternatives to a proposed project. FEMA must also ensure a proposed project meets the requirements of various other federal laws and executive orders, such as the Clean Water Act (CWA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), Executive Order 11988, addressing floodplains, and Executive Order 11990, addressing wetlands.

Applicants should consider EHP impacts early in the project scoping and development stages to help minimize impacts and avoid delays and additional costs at later stages. Early environmental planning, including consideration of possible conservation and mitigation measures that can be incorporated into the project to avoid or minimize adverse impacts, may also expedite the EHP review process.

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For questions about NEPA or EHP requirements, email the EHP Helpline or call 1-866-222-3580.

Some project types do not require an EHP review under NEPA because they are listed as a Categorical Exclusion (CATEX) because they would not result in a significant environmental impact.

Applicants and subapplicants should complete the EHP Checklist when scoping a project to assist in consideration of EHP requirements—including understanding where impacts could be avoided or minimized—during the development of a complete project application (FEMA refers to consideration of EHP impacts at the earliest point possible in the decision-making process as “EHP frontloading”). Find guidance on EHP frontloading during application development.

EHP Considerations for Wildfire Hazard Mitigation Projects

Hazardous fuels reduction is one of the commonly implemented wildfire mitigation project types and is designed to moderate fire behavior and reduce the risk of damage to life and property in the target area for mitigation. The project design must include consideration of EHP resources in accordance with all EHP laws, executive orders, and regulations, including endangered or threatened species or critical habitat and whether the proposed project might impact historic or cultural resources in the proposed project area. 

Changes in vegetation (through removal and or planting) may impact habitat, species, surface water, groundwater, floodplains, or visual aesthetics. The methods used to manage vegetation may increase erosion and sedimentation, impact species, or affect human communities. Under NEPA, certain categories of actions can be categorically excluded (i.e., a “CATEX” could be applied) if FEMA has previously determined that they are unlikely to have significant impacts on EHP resources.

EHP Considerations for Flood Risk Reduction Projects

Flood risk reduction projects are designed to lessen the frequency or depth of flooding. These projects involve activities such as installing or modifying culverts and other stormwater management facilities; constructing or modifying retention and detention basins; applying nature-based solutions; and constructing or modifying floodwalls, dams, and weirs. Flood risk reduction projects may impact floodplain resources and change flood elevations or extend both upstream and downstream from the project.

The methods used to construct a flood risk reduction project may result in erosion and sedimentation, impact species, or affect human communities. Ground disturbance could affect archaeological resources, soils, or utilities. Major flood control construction projects may require more in-depth NEPA analysis via an Environmental Assessment (EA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Nature-Based Solutions

Nature-based solutions are used as a technical evaluation criterion to score subapplications submitted to the national competition. To receive the point allotment for this criterion, the subapplication must indicate and describe how the project incorporates one or more nature-based solutions, which are sustainable environmental management practices that restore, mimic, and/or enhance nature and natural systems or processes and support natural hazard risk mitigation as well as economic, environmental, and social resilience efforts.

Nature-based solutions use approaches that include, but are not limited to, restoration of grasslands, rivers, floodplains, wetlands, dunes, and reefs; living shorelines; soil stabilization; aquifer storage and recovery; and bioretention systems.

Showing Cost-Effectiveness

Benefit Cost Analysis (BCA) is a method that determines the future risk reduction benefits of a hazard mitigation project and compares those benefits to its costs. The result is a benefit-cost ratio (BCR). A project is considered cost-effective when the BCR is 1.0 or greater. Applicants and subapplicants must use FEMA-approved methodologies and tools—such as the BCA Toolkit—to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of their projects.

To streamline the grant application process, FEMA has released pre-calculated analyses for several eligible projects including:

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For more information on BCA requirements, email the BCA Helpdesk or call toll free at 1-855-540-6744.

Tips and Tools

National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) User Manual

Learn about Environmental & Historic Preservation Guidance for FEMA Grant Applications

Additional Resources

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The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Administrative Checklist replaces and updates the Administrative Plan checklist in NEMIS. The checklist identifies the minimum criteria a plan must contain to be approvable by FEMA and includes new requirements to include subrecipient management costs.

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This job aid provides examples (including screenshots) and instructions for entering Hazard Mitigation Grant Program projects that utilizes Strategic Funds Management into the National Emergency Management Information System.

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HMA grant projects are federally funded and as such they must undergo a Section 106 review to determine if any historic properties would be negatively impacted by an HMA grant. This job aid is a flowchart that shows the Applicant responsibilities, FEMA decision points, and potential outcomes while undergoing a Section 106 review.

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The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) applies to Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) projects can be tricky to navigate. This job aid is a flowchart that shows community and FEMA responsibilities and decision points in getting an HMA project through the NEPA approval process.

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Generators are eligible to be funded by HMGP and PDM but must meet certain requirements to be considered eligible. This job aid contains background information on generators being funded by these programs, answers frequently asked questions about submitting a generator project, and provides scenarios for submitting a Benefit-Cost Analysis for a generator project.

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Building Science Publications:

Browse the Building Science publications library to find hazard-specific guidance that focuses on creating disaster-resistance communities. Reference building code documents, which provide guidance on the hazard-resistant provisions in the building codes for property owners, engineers, design professionals, building codes officials, and the public.