According to a recent Headwaters Economics study, rural communities struggle to proactively combat climate change due to the difficulties they face when applying for federal grants. This is largely because local match requirements stand as an obstacle, or often a complete deterrent, for rural and under-resourced communities looking to access federal funds. Match requirements are the share of the project costs that federal grants require communities to pay and are typically unaffected by factors such as a community’s wealth or population, making these federal funds less accessible for smaller, under-resourced areas who may not be able to meet the same match requirements as an urban community.

“When projects have fixed costs, local match requirements create disproportionate burdens on rural communities where there are fewer people to foot the bill,” Kristin Smith, PhD of Headwaters Economics wrote. She told The Daily Yonder that federal funding is especially needed in these communities due to the fact that “larger-scale projects are often required to protect those living in lower-density areas.”

In addition to match requirements, rural communities also typically lack the overall capacity to plan, carry out or obtain funding for mitigation projects. Without the necessary staff or resources, many communities are overwhelmed by where to begin with the federal grant application process and often decide against applying altogether.

While there are programs, such as Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC), that work to assist communities in preparing for climate change, funding discrepancies still exist. In BRIC’s fiscal year 2020, wealthier communities received far more funding than rural and under-resourced communities. Thus, the communities most in need of additional resources and federal funding continue to have the most difficulty accessing them.

For the full story, visit The Daily Yonder: