Friday, December 1, 2023

Virginia Looking to Loans for Local Flood Resiliency Efforts

Coastal flooding is of increasing concern to communities in Virginia and around the nation. (WYDaily file)
(WYDaily file)

HAMPTON — The head of the Department of Conservation and Recreation said Virginia would begin using more loans rather than just relying on grants to fund local flood resiliency efforts.

DCR Director Matt Wells told the Joint Subcommittee on Recurrent Flooding Thursday his agency is looking to tap into the new Resilient Virginia Revolving Loan Fund as well as the Community Flood Preparedness Fund, also known as the Flood Fund.

“I think if you were looking at a Venn diagram of the two, the circles wouldn’t be quite the same, but they would be significantly overlapped,” Wells said.

The revolving fund was created through legislation in the last session by state Sen. Lynwood Lewis, D-Accomack, and Del. David Bulova, D-Fairfax, to provide localities and people with loans for flood resiliency efforts.

The revolving fund was appropriated $25 million in the budget with Flood Fund dollars, which have been generated through the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Flood Fund has received just over $200 million since Virginia joined in 2020.

The difference between the two funds lies around the intended audience: the revolving fund is available for residential, commercial and industrial properties, whereas the Flood Fund is directed toward community-scale projects, Wells explained.

The revolving fund is also designed to be self-sustaining.

A DCR spokesperson previously told the Mercury future awards of Flood Fund dollars would include loan opportunities.

“Part of the reason we are considering doing loans through the CFPF is because that’s a potentially larger pot of money that could be leveraged,” Wells said Thursday.

Chris Stone, the CEO of architecture firm Clark Nexsen and the business representative on the subcommittee, questioned if the revolving fund is substantial enough for the demand.

“The $25 million … it won’t even really do a simple project, a substantial project,” Stone said.

Lewis, who chairs the subcommittee, said the funds would provide gap funding for projects.

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