HUD’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard Update

May 9, 2024

On April 23rd, HUD released the final rule for the Floodplain Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS), aimed to enhance the resilience of HUD-assisted projects against climate change and natural disasters, while offering more flexibility in floodway assistance.

Key updates include a preference for a climate-informed science approach in determining floodplain extents, streamlined floodplain and wetland regulations for clarity, and modernized standards for housing construction to ensure safety in flood-prone areas. Additionally, environmental review processes are improved with the inclusion of online public notices.

Key dates:

Update Effective: 5/23/24
Compliance Date: 6/24/24

* Exceptions – Compliance with the final rule amendments to 24 CFR Part 55 is required no later than 1/1/25 for FHA MAP, Section 202, 811, Section 8 Transfers, Section 8 Renewals, RAD, PBRA, GRRP, as well as FHA Healthcare (LEAN) and Risk Share.

EBI understands there may be some confusion on the above dates and when projects should be considering the FFRMS Floodplain standards. We recommend that all projects not yet submitted to HUD begin this process. Additional clarification from HUD on the (Effective/Compliance) dates is forthcoming.

Our team will be monitoring these changes and guidance as they become available for review, and there is better understanding of each change. Some of the changes referenced throughout this piece (i.e. Part 55.7, etc.) are not published as of today. EBI hopes to update on those changes as soon as possible.

Changes in the rule:

Along with the three FFRMS Floodplain approaches described below, there are changes to 8-Step requirements, wetland definitions, incidental floodplain changes, exception revisions (including CLOMR/A and LOMR/A), and elevation and floodproofing, among other small changes.

The FFRMS floodplain is based on future flood risk and expands the 100-year floodplain both vertically based on projections of increased flood height, and horizontally by including the horizontal area impacted by a vertical increase in flood waters.

The Three FFRMS Floodplain approaches:

    1. Climate Informed Science Approach (CISA): CISA will generally use the same methodology for both critical and non-critical actions; however, the selection of climate change scenarios used for future projections should account for the lower tolerance of risk based on the action’s criticality. Where part 55 applies, CISA is the required approach to define the FFRMS floodplain if data is available and actionable.
        • Note that CISA is only available for coastal areas.
    2. 0.2-Percent-Annual-Chance Flood Approach (0.2 PFA): For non-critical actions, where CISA data or other types of CISA analysis is not available or actionable, but FEMA has defined the 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain, the FFRMS floodplain is defined as those areas that FEMA has designated as within the 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain. For critical actions where CISA data is not available nor actionable, the FFRMS floodplain is defined as either the area within the 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain or the area that results from adding an additional three feet to the base flood elevation, whichever results in the larger floodplain and higher elevation. For any action, newly constructed or substantially improved structures within this definition of the FFRMS floodplain are required to be elevated to or above the FFRMS floodplain.
        • Interpretation – 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain is the 500-year floodplain, or commonly known as Shaded Zone X (found on the FEMA maps shaded in orange).
        • For non-critical actions, the FFRMS Floodplain is the 500-year floodplain. This will result in the need for 5- or 8-Step Process reporting for MAP deals that are located within the 500-year floodplain.
        • Where it is stated “For critical actions where CISA data is not available nor actionable, the FFRMS floodplain is defined as either the area within the 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain or the area that results from adding an additional three feet to the base flood elevation, whichever results in the larger floodplain and higher elevation.” We believe they are asking for the addition of 3-feet to the base flood elevation of the nearest SFHA (100-year floodplain), not to establish base flood elevations to the 500-year (which is not established). Further clarification on this will be forthcoming.
    3. Freeboard Value Approach (FVA): For non-critical actions, if CISA data is not available or actionable and the FEMA 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain is not defined, the FFRMS floodplain is defined as those areas, including the horizontal extent, that result from adding an additional two feet to the base flood elevation as established by the effective FEMA FIRM or Flood Insurance Study (FIS). For critical actions where CISA data is not available or actionable and where the 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain elevation is not defined, the FFRMS floodplain is defined as those areas, including the horizontal extent, that result from adding an additional three feet to the base flood elevation.
        • This is largely the same approach that has been occurring for all MAP and LEAN projects in the past.
        • Clarification – The additional 2 or 3 feet to the base flood elevation is from the 10-year, SFHA on the property, and potentially directly adjacent floodplains, since the FFRMS is taking into account the horizontal extent of the floodplain.

Resources

HUD training – May 30, 2024, from 1:30pm to 3:30pm EST

Objectives for the above HUD training:

    • Learn how to implement and comply with the new 24 CFR Part 55
    • Understand how the FFRMS Floodplain is defined and other new terminology
    • Hear examples from the field of how changes to the new Final Rule will affect the environmental review process

The Federal Register – The current Federal CISA tool is called the Federal Flood Standard Support Tool (FFSST) and is housed at https://floodstandard.climate.gov/. This tool is in beta testing but as of today approximately 60% of the U.S. Counties have been mapped. This mapping tool is producing CISA reports where available and FVA reports in other non-coastal areas.

FFSST Map Tool – Shows the status of what areas have been mapped.

Stay tuned for more information to come! EBI will keep you all posted as we understand more.

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