Our Priorities: Infrastructure

Infrastructure

The goal of The Alliance is to keep you up to date on federal infrastructure plans that directly impact property investments and to advocate for policies and legislation that would create a housing market that is affordable to all.

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Infrastructure: News & Resources
Infrastructure: Crossing the Bridge to Better

How do we build the bridge to a more sustainable, equitable future for all property owners? Smart investments in infrastructure today. Click on a subject area below to learn more about infrastructure and what’s needed…

Infrastructure: Crossing the Bridge to Better

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Infrastructure Feature Image

How do we build the bridge to a more sustainable, equitable future for all property owners? Smart investments in infrastructure today. Click on a subject area below to learn more about infrastructure and what’s needed to cross the bridge to better communities.

Broadband

Currently, 19 million Americans do not have access to broadband at threshold speeds.1

When communities gain access to high-speed internet, businesses grow, jobs are created, and according to a recent study, property values are 6% higher.2 Return to top.

Waste and Water

Only 37% of the nation’s total water infrastructure capital needs were met with previous funding.3

There is a critical need to maintain and expand systems that deliver clean drinking water to property owners. We must invest in waste and water system improvements now to conserve water and keep communities safe and healthy. Return to top.

Roads and Bridges

More than 40% of our country’s road systems are in poor or mediocre condition, costing drivers over $1,000 every year in wasted time and fuel. 4

Roads play a critical role in the transfer of goods and services that fuel local economies. We must invest in roads and bridges now to support local economies, improve traffic congestion and road safety, and lower transportation costs for property owners. Return to top.

Mass Transit

45% of Americans do not have access to public transportation.5

It is time to invest in expanding access to mass transit so that people can more easily access healthcare, jobs, schools and more. Mass transit also raises property values and improves the quality of neighborhoods. Return to top.

Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to them to support smart infrastructure investment.

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[social_warfare]
It’s Time To Get Smart About Infrastructure

Read the original article by Chris Turlica by Forbes. It’s a running joke in Beltway circles that every week is Infrastructure Week, but while the Senate remains deadlocked over the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending, analysts…

It’s Time To Get Smart About Infrastructure

Read the original article by Chris Turlica by Forbes.

It’s a running joke in Beltway circles that every week is Infrastructure Week, but while the Senate remains deadlocked over the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending, analysts believe that major infrastructure investments might be the key to putting the global economy back on track. Both U.S. presidential candidates have pledged to spend heavily on infrastructure, and industry groups are also calling for big investments in bridges, highways and other major infrastructure projects to spur a U.S. economic revival.

Such spending is long overdue. A third of Americans say roads in their neighborhoods badly need repairs, and half of rural roads are rated poor to fair. Put all 54,000 of our nation’s structurally deficient bridges end to end, and they’ll stretch from Manhattan to Miami Beach. At least 2,170 of our 15,500 high-hazard dams are dangerously deficient. And with 240,000 water-main breaks a year, we annually pour 2 trillion gallons of drinking water straight down the drain. 

Frankly, the state of America’s infrastructure is shocking. But therein lies the rub: With so much of our infrastructure in decay, how can we track all the work that needs to be done? At current rates of repair, it would take decades to patch up those deficient bridges — so where should we start, and which bridges should we repair first? Which structures merely need a coat of paint, and which ones need to be completely rebuilt? With vast sums at stake, how will we decide how the money gets spent?

To find the answer, look at the five-mile Mackinac suspension bridge between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. Since 2016, researchers have installed scores of tiny wireless sensors on “Big Mac.” This year, they will fit thousands more. Powered by the vibrations of passing traffic, the sensors constantly gather information about traffic patterns, wind levels and the condition of the bridge itself, giving inspectors a torrent of invaluable data about the bridge’s safety and pinpointing exactly where and when repairs are needed...

Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $213 billion for affordable housing

President Biden recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, asking Congress to approve $2 trillion in spending. And while much of that proposal involves basic repairs to roads and bridges, as well as upgrades to the electrical…

Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $213 billion for affordable housing

President Biden recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, asking Congress to approve $2 trillion in spending. And while much of that proposal involves basic repairs to roads and bridges, as well as upgrades to the electrical grid and expanding access to broadband internet, the plan calls for a whopping $213 billion to create more affordable housing. Adding to the housing stock is a priority of the Biden administration, and the plan would build or rehabilitate more than 500,000 dwellings for low- and middle-income homebuyers, as well as retrofit more than two million commercial buildings and affordable housing units, to create more affordability in the marketplace. Specifically, Biden is asking Congress to approve the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act - legislation that would provide an additional $20 billion in tax credits for affordable housing through 2026. There are other incentives tied to affordable housing, such as creating a grant program for local jurisdictions that eliminate red tape that slows or prevents new housing development, like exclusionary zoning laws. The big debate that will certainly take place in Congress is where this vast amount of funding will come from. President Biden’s plan is to raise taxes on large and multinational corporations to offset the cost of his infrastructure goals.  His Made in America Tax Plan would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% rate that was put in place as part of former President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The top corporate tax rate was 35% prior to 2017.  The plan also provides an increase in taxes for the earnings American companies make outside of the U.S. The Department of Transportation is certainly linked to this latest proposal as well, as prior to the unveiling of the plan it announced it was seeking applicants for the 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program, which provides $889 million to fund national and regional transportation projects. This is important to the affordable housing piece of the plan as the department will consider whether a development project is in a federally designated community development zone or opportunity zone. If so, improvements in transportation in those areas could pique the interest of real estate developers to also take advantage of those opportunity zone incentives to build affordable housing close to new transportation hubs, or at least areas that have easy access to new transportation. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
How an infrastructure bill can help rural communities in the West

Kane Creek Road, a curving asphalt road nestled between the Colorado River and red rock cliffs, might not see much use were it not situated in Moab, Utah — a small town so inundated with…

How an infrastructure bill can help rural communities in the West

Kane Creek Road, a curving asphalt road nestled between the Colorado River and red rock cliffs, might not see much use were it not situated in Moab, Utah — a small town so inundated with visitors these days that City Manager Joel Linares says he’s never bored.

“We’re just getting overrun. We just cannot keep up,” Linares said.

The road, which leads to a popular off-roading route, is falling apart, according to Linares. The byway has turned into a kind of quilt with lines of asphalt zigzagging every way. “I don’t know that there’s a 6 foot by 6 foot square of asphalt left in the whole road. I mean, it’s just a big piece of patchwork.” he said.

Quick fixes just aren’t working anymore.

Deteriorating Kane Creek and other roads in this area of southeastern Utah are an example of how a small town of roughly 5,000 full-time residents must contend with big city infrastructure problems brought on by an average of 3 million visitors a year.

“All of our projects and everything is so geared towards meeting the market demand that’s being driven by overnight accommodations,” Linares said. “We never have time or money to go in and take care of our failing infrastructure that’s decades and decades and decades old.”



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Buttigieg On Biden Administration’s Priorities For Transportation Department

Read the original article by Alisa Chang at NPR. CHANG: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about – more about what you’ll be dealing with when you’re confirmed, if you’re confirmed as transportation secretary. Public…

Buttigieg On Biden Administration’s Priorities For Transportation Department

Read the original article by Alisa Chang at NPR.

CHANG: OK. Let's talk a little bit about - more about what you'll be dealing with when you're confirmed, if you're confirmed as transportation secretary. Public transit systems throughout the country have been struggling for years and then even more so during this pandemic because ridership has further declined in many regions. Where do you even start to try to reinvigorate these systems in a post-pandemic world?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it starts with the president's rescue package, which identifies $20 billion to support our transit agencies that have taken such a blow. But the reality is just trying to prop them up or get back to pre-COVID levels isn't really good enough when you consider the need for us to have stronger transit systems. It's important for safety. It's important for climate. It's important for economic growth. And it's important for equity because we know that in many parts of the country, there are transit deserts, disproportionately in Black, brown and tribal communities that have cut people off from economic opportunity. But again, if we get this right, this is a great example of the kind of investment that really does pay for itself because it unlocks opportunity. It gives people alternatives for how to get around. And it's going to make our economy and our communities stronger.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

New Model: Nearly Six Milion More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water…

New Model: Nearly Six Milion More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water in a certain area, as well as changes in the topography of land over time from natural or man-made changes, makes identifying the risk a constant struggle.

That unenviable task falls under the purview of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) which makes the best of limited resources to produce the highest quality maps to support community safety regulations for as much of the country as possible. Nevertheless, a recent analysis has found that by not including all sources of flooding (e.g., heavy rainfall) and being updated frequently,  the federal flood maps have underestimated the flood risk to almost six million homes or structures in the United States.

The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that created a consortium of scientists, researchers and engineers from Rutgers University, the University of California at Berkley and George Mason University, as well as researchers from the Rhodium Group and flood analysts from Fathom. They took on the ambitious task of extending FEMA maps to every home in America except for Alaska and Hawaii.

“SIGNIFICANT GAPS EXIST IN CALIFORNIA, PENNSYLVANIA, TEXAS, NEW YORK, AND TENNESSEE, MOSTLY DRIVEN BY AREAS THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK OF AS HIGH FLOOD-RISK LOCATIONS, LIKE CHATTANOOGA OR PHILADELPHIA.”

While FEMA maps are generally very expensive, labor intensive and time consuming, First Street was able to leverage advances in catastrophe modeling and remote sensing technologies – like LiDAR from airplanes – in order to overcome the mapping challenges and generate a nationwide model that measured flood assessment to high degree of accuracy and precision.

It was major step forward in educating the nation’s property owners about flood risk and protecting the U.S. taxpayer in the process.

The group’s modeling is “exactly what we need to be doing,” Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT who serves on First Street’s advisory board, told USA Today. “Until recently we didn’t have people putting all these little pieces together. We had really good people working on that little piece of the problem and good people working on another little corner.”

The new model identified roughly 14.6 million American homes – or about 1 of every 10 homes in the country – have an annual risk of flooding of at least one percent, which is the threshold the federal government uses to assess which homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance. This is contrary to FEMA’s list, which is about 40% lower, at 8.7 million properties in the floodplain.

First Street’s model didn’t just identify blind spots in the FEMA maps, but also made 30-year projections. According to their data, an additional 1.6 million properties will reach that one percent risk plateau by 2050.

While one percent might not seem high – it’s about the same risk you take driving 70 MPH on the highway – if you extrapolate that over the length of a 30-year mortgage on a property, the odds of a home flooding before a mortgage is paid off is about 1-in-4, or 26 percent.

Many of the largest discrepancies between FEMA and First Street maps were in states and cities not typically considered at high-risk for flooding.

Significant gaps exist in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Tennessee, mostly driven by areas that you wouldn’t think of as high flood-risk locations, like Chattanooga or Philadelphia.

According to First Street, another big city – Chicago – has an additional 76,000 properties that should be on the FEMA floodplain, but aren’t.

And it’s not just large urban settings like Chicago where FEMA appears to underestimating homes in the floodplain. First Street identified West Virginia as the state with the greatest discrepancy and having even more homes at-risk than Louisiana or Florida.REPEATEDLY FLOODED HOMES ALSO ON THE RISE

While First Street’s research is the most comprehensive to date, it is not the only chink the nation’s armor against flooding that was recently identified.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that programs designed to move homes out of floodplains or provide fortification of homes by elevating them – or flood proofing – are not keeping pace with the number of properties with repeated flooding.

GAO found that there was a 43 percent increase in the amount of repeatedly flooded properties in the U.S. climbing from 150,000 in 2009 to 214,000 by 2018.

In a changing climate when storms appear to be intensifying and coming more frequently, the GAO expects that number to continue to rise.

Most flood experts agree that FEMA must modernize to stay ahead of the curve, especially in inland areas where urban flooding due to heavy rainfall clears the one percent line of demarcation but is not currently included on the maps.

Even with those limitations, FEMA’s methods, which were developed decades ago, assesses only riverine and storm surge flood risks using historical data and without accounting for projected sea level rise along much of the coast

According to USA Today, FEMA and local officials don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Grover Fugate, former executive director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, noted that FEMA revamped its flood maps along the state’s coast a few years ago, and actually lowered storm-surge estimates by up to five feet.

Concerned that the agency was using a 50-year-old model to predict the way a storm surge would begin moving over the land, Fugate and his team created their own flood maps and found that FEMA underestimated wave heights in severe storms by as many as 16 feet.IMPACT ON FLOOD INSURANCE

Meanwhile, with this new data, the ever-struggling National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) now faces another financial crisis.

The NFIP has not been able to be a self-sustaining entity ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and GAO has listed the NFIP as “high-risk” and in need of a complete overhaul.

Some lawmakers have suggested that the NFIP could move back into the black by mitigating properties that have repeated flood claims either by buying them out, or through flood-proofing.

However, current mitigation efforts are not keeping up with the growth of the repetitive-loss properties and by itself, will not solve the problem.

“Mitigation alone will not be sufficient to resolve NFIP’s financial challenges,” GAO wrote in a June 2020 report. “A more comprehensive approach is necessary to address the program’s fiscal exposure.”

Combine the new data from First Street with GAO’s findings and suddenly, Congress may not have a choice but to consider allowing flood insurance premiums to rise.

The GAO report identified approximately 1 million NFIP policies with premiums that are artificially low and do not reflect the property’s actual flood risk.

GAO suggested that affordability can be addressed by bringing the hidden subsides out into the open and removing them, except for the lowest-income property owners.

“Assigning full-risk premium rates to all policies would remove subsidies from those who do not need them, helping improve solvency. It would also more accurately signal the true flood risk,” GAO wrote.THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

First Street has also released a tool and website called “Flood Factor.” It’s a downloadable application for a phone in which homeowners and buyers can evaluate any property’s flood risk. It also allows for a historical search on the flooding of a property.

“This sounds like a CARFAX for homes,” Larry Bartlett, the property appraiser for Volusia County, Fla. told USA Today. “If I was a lender, I’d want to know if the property I was lending money on stood a good chance of being underwater in 30 years.”

Along with USA Today, information from Climatewire was also used in this report.

Want to learn more about how to be prepared for a flood? Check out these links below:

Be Prepared for a Flood
Factsheet on how to stay safe before, during, and after a flood.

Flood Social Media Toolkit
Website with social media resources.

12 Ways to Prepare
A postcard with 12 steps you can take to be more prepared.

Document and Insure Your Property
Document outlining specific steps you can take to document and insure your valuables before a disaster.

Stay-At-Home Orders Drive Broadband Expansion

Identified as a federal policy priority in 2009, broadband, or high-speed internet, remains one of the top infrastructure issues facing the country. However, as families continue to work and learn from home, it’s more essential…

Stay-At-Home Orders Drive Broadband Expansion

Identified as a federal policy priority in 2009, broadband, or high-speed internet, remains one of the top infrastructure issues facing the country. However, as families continue to work and learn from home, it’s more essential than ever to invest in smart broadband policy for all communities.  Luckily, government programs and relief packages are providing a new path for states to improve wireless in rural areas where broadband has not historically been available.

The $150 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved on March 27, 2020, is just one example. $2 billion of the CARES was earmarked to provide support for the transition to fully remote life, including distance learning, telehealth, and broadband expansion. Over 25 states took advantage - including:  Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mayland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

State, local, and tribal governments were eligible to apply for tech/broadband-specific grants. However, there are some key restrictions for this funding - which can only be used:

  • Programs that are directly connected to COVID-19
  • Have no previous budget allocated/ approved prior March 27.
  • On Dec. 30, 2020, unused funds will revert to the federal government.

Other government programs have ramped up pre-established programs to provide needed relief during the pandemic. On Thursday, October 29th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the first phase of its new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, which will target over six million homes and businesses in unserved census blocks. The auction will provide internet companies with $20 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years and hopes to connect roughly 10 million Americans who don’t have any internet access or are on slow speeds.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also launched a smaller rural broadband pilot. In September and October, the agency announced over $516 million in ReConnect rural broadband grants and loans, drawing from a $550 million pot that Congress authorized last December.

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Read the original article by John Egan and Amy Danise on Forbes Flooding ranks as the costliest, most common natural disaster in the U.S. Yet standard homeowners and renters insurance don’t cover flood damage, and most…

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Read the original article by John Egan and Amy Danise on Forbes

Flooding ranks as the costliest, most common natural disaster in the U.S. Yet standard homeowners and renters insurance don’t cover flood damage, and most commercial property insurance policies also exclude floods.

So how do you protect your property and belongings from the financial pit of flooding? You can purchase a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private insurer.

How to Get NFIP Flood Insurance

The NFIP, managed by FEMA, offers federally backed flood insurance sold through more than 60 insurance companies and through an initiative called NFIP Direct.

NFIP policies are available in more than 22,000 communities that participate in the program. The program is the primary provider of residential flood insurance in the U.S. It covers more than 5 million homes and businesses, mainly in flood-prone coastal regions...