Greauxing Resilience at Home: A Regional Vision

 

Introduction


Louisiana is one of the hardest-hit areas in the United States as extreme weather events and regular flooding become more frequent and intense.See footnote 1 These challenges often fall “first and worst” on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and low-income communities. This is especially true in the U.S. Gulf Coast region and the state of Louisiana.See footnote 2 

Over time, these challenges are being exacerbated by population increases and transitions as climate and non-climate drivers (e.g., people moving out of urban centers into more rural areas) influence where people choose — or are able — to live. 

In southeast Louisiana, affordable, resilient housing initiatives are critical to ensuring equitable adaptation that takes into consideration the myriad overlapping challenges facing all Louisianans, but especially those living in communities that have long borne a disproportionate burden of risk.

After two devastating back-to-back storms in 2016, Governor John Bel Edwards announced his intention to create a governance structure across all levels of government to look at long-term flood risk reduction. In 2018, the governor signed Executive Order JBE-2018-16 to create the Louisiana Watershed Initiative (LWI). LWI divided the state into eight regional watershed planning districts and tasked each one with identifying “a long-range vision for the state’s multi-pronged approach to mitigating future flood risk focusing on natural boundaries, not political ones.” 

Between fall 2020 and spring 2022, Capital Region Planning Commission (CRPC) and Georgetown Climate Center (GCC) engaged with dozens of directors of departments in local parishes, leaders of regional non-governmental organizations, academic researchers, community members and more in Region Seven. The result of that partnership is Greauxing Resilience at Home: A Regional Vision, a resource to inform Region Seven’s ongoing work to increase community resilience by promoting affordable housing and nature-based solutions. 

Terminology and Scale

Throughout the Regional Vision, the word “regional” is intended to refer to cross-jurisdictional concepts (e.g., more than one parish or municipality), compared to the use of “local,” which is meant to encompass individual units of local government for parishes and chartered and incorporated municipalities. 

A “community” more specifically references Louisianan residents and people and entities outside government as the primary actors (e.g., community-driven planning processes). A community can broadly be conceived of as a group of people who share similar beliefs and values and support one another in various ways that are self-determined. The idea or concept of a community is not defined by any legal rules or ordinances and may not perfectly align with the maps or jurisdictional boundaries that guide government decisions. Moreover, regional and local governments may have to engage multiple community factions in the context of a single action. 

As reflected by these differences in terminology, it is important to recognize how the work and ideas included in the Regional Vision impact work at three different levels. Please see below for a summary table about how these terms broadly align with different government and nongovernmental entities, geographic and environmental scales, and types of legal, planning, and policy actions. Regional and local governments consulting the Regional Vision can pursue potential actions identified in the five goals at any or all of these scales. However, since greauxing resilience starts at home, steps to build resilience within Region Seven and beyond will ideally operate at all three scales from the hyperlocal community to the regional. 

While the focus of the Regional Vision is on regional and local levels of government, coordination with state and federal governments could also be necessary when designing and implementing many tools and solutions.

Regional Vision Term

Definition 

Geographic Scale

Environmental Scale

Example Tools and Solutions 

Regional

Regional governments or more than one local government

Regional entity or more than one parish or municipality

Watershed

Regional plans, cross-jurisdictional peer-learning fora 

Local

Parish and municipal governments

One parish or municipality

Watershed

Local comprehensive plans, land-use and zoning ordinances

Community

Affected residents and private, nonprofit, and academic stakeholders and entities outside government 

A subunit of a local government like neighborhoods, blocks, subdivisions, or buildings

Watershed

Neighborhood-level plans, subdivision ordinances, overlay zones

The Regional Vision was developed with a focus on Region Seven’s particular local circumstances. However, the Regional Vision identifies tools, approaches, and examples that will be useful to people throughout Louisiana, the Gulf Coast region, and nationally taking actions to address housing, flooding, equity, resilience, and population changes. 

The Regional Vision is organized around five strategic housing and nature-based goals: 

Within each goal, the Regional Vision lays out five objectives that can be adapted to fit a range of regional and local needs and contexts. These goals and objectives are supplemented with 50 detailed case studies that describe best and emerging practices, tools and examples from Louisiana and other U.S. jurisdictions to make progress on these complex challenges.

The Regional Vision is intended as a reference and a resource to support governments in their decisionmaking efforts. Because there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to community resilience, it provides ideas for consideration, not prescriptions. Regional and local governments can use the Regional Vision to identify potential legal, planning, and policy tools and projects they may consider to increase the affordability and availability of housing in their jurisdictions and the use of nature-based solutions.

Resilience, Affordable Housing, and Equity for the Regional Vision

In designing laws, plans, and policies that will work for all, language matters. This part lays out definitions for the terms resilience, affordable housing, and equity in order to provide a shared meaning and understanding for each word that can be used and applied throughout the Regional Vision. These definitions were developed by the project team at CRPC and GCC, the PROWL Work Group, and other collaborators.

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