Memo Update: Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS)

Jun 19, 2024

EBI distributed a memo on May 9th, 2024 for updates to the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS). Below are some key takeaways from the recent HUD training as well as additional guidance on the subject.

 

The new FFRMS Standard redefines the floodplains for all project types:

  • The 100-year floodplain (Zone A, AE) is no longer regulated.
  • The new standard regulates to an expanded FFRMS Floodplain instead of the 100-year floodplain to account for increased flood risk over time
  • The new standard will increase the number of HUD actions that require compliance with Part 55 regulations (meaning the need for additional 5- or 8-step process reporting than before)

Who it effects:

Programs subject to Chapter 9 of the MAP Guide:

  • FHA Multifamily
  • Section 202 and 811 capital advance grants
  • Transfers under 8bb and 209, and Section 8 Renewals with Capital Repairs
  • RAD conversions to PBRA
  • Green and Resilient Retrofit Program

Other mortgage insurance programs subject to Part 55

  • FHA Healthcare- Residential Care Facilities and Hospitals (LEAN)
  • FHA Risk Share

The FFRMS defines an expanded floodplain (both vertical and horizontal), which takes future flood risk into account. This can be seen in the diagram.

*Note – FFRMS base flood elevation is +2-feet for MAP and +3-feet for LEAN

There are three approaches to utilize for defining if your project is located within the FFRMS Floodplain:

  1. Climate Informed Science Approach (CISA)
  2. 0.2-Percent-Annual-Chance Flood Approach (0.2 PFA)
  3. Freeboard Value Approach (FVA)

1. Climate Informed Science Approach (CISA): Where part 55 applies, CISA is the required approach to define the FFRMS floodplain if data is available and actionable. This approach should be analyzed first for each project.

a. Note that CISA is only available, currently for coastal areas only.
b. Federal Flood Standard Support Tool (FFSST)
i. In the BETA stage
ii. Not yet adopted by HUD, but can be used as a baseline and helpful to determine if CISA is the correct approach to the project
iii. Only ~60% of the US is mapped
c. State and Local maps may be available in lieu of the FFSST tool; however, at this time, most municipalities and states have not yet published maps

2. 0.2-Percent-Annual-Chance Flood Approach (0.2 PFA): This is the second approach that will be analyzed if CISA is unavailable. The 0.2 FVA FFRMS floodplain is defined as those areas that FEMA has designated as within the 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain (500-year floodplain; Shaded Zone X; X500) on the project site for non-critical actions (MAP) projects. Therefore, there is the need for the 8-Step. For critical actions (LEAN), the FFRMS floodplain is defined as 0.2-percent-annual-chance floodplain (500-year floodplain, Shaded Zone X, X500) 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.
a. 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.
b. Interpretation – For non-critical actions (MAP), 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.
c. Interpretation – For critical actions (LEAN), the FFRMS Floodplain is either the 500-year floodplain with an additional 3-feet added to the nearest Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA; Zone AE) or the base flood elevation of the 500-year floodplain (not readily available data, may be available in area flood studies), whichever is highest.

3. Freeboard Value Approach (FVA): This third approach will be utilized if there is no CISA or any mapped 500-year floodplains on site (more than likely, this will be the most utilized approach)
a. For non-critical actions (MAP), if there is a SFHA located on or adjacent to the project site, the FFRMS is +2-feet the SFHA base flood elevation (BFE).
b. For critical actions (LEAN), if there is a SFHA located on or adjacent to the project site, the FFRMS is +3-feet the SFHA base flood elevation (BFE).
c. This is taking into account both the vertical and horizontal extent of the FFRMS.
i. Interpretation – If there is a SHFA (100-year floodplain; Zone AE) on/adjacent/nearby, the FFRMS must be analyzed utilizing site specific data (elevations) to determine if the FFRMS encroaches onto the project site.

Below is a flowchart to help identify which approach works for the project site:

If the FFRMS has been defined for your project site, the following will be required:

Non-Critical Actions (MAP)

  • 223f – 5-Step
  • Heavy 223f – 5-Step
  • 221d4 Sub Rehab – Rehabilitation under the ‘substantial improvement’ threshold (50% of market value before rehab) can use a 5-step; If over the threshold, the 8-Step is required and elevation or floodproofing will be required.
  • New Construction – 8-Step required, requires elevating or floodproofing.
    *Elevation is required for residential, floodproofing is allowed for non-residential buildings/spaces (lobby, ground floor retail)
    ** FFRMS Rule adopts FEMA’s requirements for floodproofing under 44 CFR 60.3(c)(3)(ii) and 44 CFR 60.3(c)(4)(i)

Critical Actions (LEAN)

  • 232/223f – 5-Step
  • Sub Rehab – Rehabilitation under the ‘substantial improvement’ threshold (50% of market value before rehab) can use a 5-step. If over the threshold, the 8-Step is required and elevation or floodproofing will be required.
  • New Construction – 8-Step required, requires elevating or floodproofing.
    *Elevation is required for residential, floodproofing is allowed for non-residential buildings/spaces (lobby, ground floor retail)
    ** FFRMS Rule adopts FEMA’s requirements for floodproofing under 44 CFR 60.3(c)(3)(ii) and 44 CFR 60.3(c)(4)(i)

Compliance Dates

  • The full environmental review must be certified or have the final floodplain notice (public notice) published with comment period prior to January 1, 2025, in order to use the previous Part 55.
  • After January 1, 2025, 223f projects that are in for review, will need to re-evaluate the floodplain portion.
  • After January 1, 2025, SR/NC may need redesign the project to meet minimum elevation requirements.
  • To finalize compliance before January 1, 2025, certifying HEROS is preferable, but relying on floodplain notice (public notice dates) may be necessary if other environmental laws delay the review.

Additional information on FLOODWAYS:

Previous Floodways:

ERR/HEROS Update:

  • HEROS will update (estimated in late June) to reflect the new Part 55 requirements.
  • The update will include an option for FHA reviews to select the previous floodplain management screen (please let EBI know your submittal deadline).
  • After January 1, 2025, that option will be removed, and all in-progress reviews using the previous screen will start the floodplain management screen over under the new format. This means that if submittal was after the compliance date, and the FFRMS wasn’t previously established, it will have to be re-evaluated.
  • Office of Housing will distribute instructions for the floodplain management screen when HEROS is updated.

Important Links:

Link to the Federal Register –

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2024/04/23/2024-06246/floodplain-management-and-protection-of-wetlands-minimum-property-standards-for-flood-hazard
https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/comm_planning/environment_energy/ffrms
https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/comm_planning/environment_energy/ffrms/faqs

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.

A helpful tool in the FFSST shows the status of what areas have been mapped. https://floodstandard.climate.gov/pages/status-map

Stay tuned for more information to come!

EBI will keep you all posted as we understand more.
Questions and Comments can be directed to Krista Carter, EBI Program Manager, kcarter@ebiconsulting.com

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