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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Volume 19, Number 2
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

Reducing the Flood Hazard Exposure of HUD-Assisted Properties

Michael K. Hollar
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the U.S. government.


A regulatory impact analysis must accompany every economically significant federal rule or regulation. The Office of Policy Development and Research performs this analysis for all U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules. An impact analysis is a forecast of the annual benefits and costs accruing to all parties, including the taxpayers, from a given regulation. Modeling these benefits and costs involves use of past research findings, application of economic principles, empirical investigation, and professional judgment.

Following the extensive flood damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, Executive Order 13690 directed federal agencies to reduce risk associated with floodplain development. In response, the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG), which coordinates flood mitigation efforts across Federal agencies, studied evidence on past and predicted sea level changes and riverine flooding and established the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS). The new standard requires that buildings be constructed with at least 2 feet of freeboard above base flood elevation (BFE), or BFE+2. Critical actions, such as construction or substantial rehabilitation of hospitals and assisted living facilities, should be constructed with at least 3 feet of freeboard above BFE (BFE+3) or to the 0.2 percent annual chance (500-year) floodplain, whichever is higher. Finally, nonresidential structures that are not critical actions, including multifamily structures without residential units below BFE+2, may be floodproofed instead of elevating to the new standard. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed the adoption of this standard.

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