Wonmin Sohn, Assistant professor at MSU Landscape Architecture, receives $326K HUD grant for “Development of Comprehensive Climate Vulnerability Resilience Capacity Indexes for Enhancing Urban Recovery in Midwestern Communities”

The project output will contribute to an effective allocation of limited recovery funding, ensuring that the most damaged communities and those lagging in recovery will receive what is needed.

Sohn headshot

The total cost for the “Development of Comprehensive Climate Vulnerability and Resilience Capacity Indexes for Enhancing Urban Recovery in Midwestern Communities” project will be $326,146.

"I am truly honored to receive this award that will support an effective allocation of limited disaster recovery funding to shrinking cities, ensuring that the most damaged communities and those lagging in recovery receive what is needed when natural disasters strike," said Sohn.

Jun-Hyun Kim, Associate Professor and Program Director of the SPDC Landscape Architecture Program, is a co-principal investigator on this project. This project will also be proceeded in partnership with the National Charrette Institute in SPDC, Office of Sustainability in the City of Detroit, and Office of Environment and Sustainability in the City of Cincinnati.

The severity of the natural hazard risk is typically greater in coastal cities than in other locations. However, while coastal cities have concentrated resources on human interventions, infrastructure, and financial assistance, less attention has been paid to shrinking cities that have experienced greater marginalization and social segregation in the face of ongoing population loss and budget reductions.

Declines in population impose challenges to effective hazard risk management because scarce municipal resources from reduced tax bases can hamper prompt responses to natural disasters. Detroit and Cincinnati, cities where more than 40% of the population has been lost since 1950, will be exposed to even greater threats of climate change in the near and far futures based on projections of more extreme flooding and heat events as well as changing seasonal patterns in Midwestern regions.

The social segregation resulting from population decline makes certain residents even more vulnerable and further marginalized by these climate-related hazards, causing slower recovery. The capacity of urban communities in shrinking cities to mitigate, resist, and absorb adverse impacts of climate change remains unknown. Given these challenges, the main purposes of this project are to:

1) Develop composite indexes that quantify community vulnerability and resilience capacity to present climate change hazards.

2) Verify the developed indexes and assess their score correlation.

3) Provide resilience planning and design guidelines for two major Midwestern cities at high future climate risk: Detroit and Cincinnati.

It is expected that the level of climate vulnerability and resilience capacity will have a discrepancy by community depending on which type of capital (e.g., social, economic, environmental, physical, health, and institutional) the community values for managing potential hazards.

The project output will contribute to an effective allocation of limited recovery funding, ensuring that the most damaged communities and those lagging in recovery will receive what is needed. It also facilitates implementation of proactive and reactive actions against future climate change threats, helping to minimize recovery time and ensure the long-term sustainability of shrinking cities.

The Research Partnership Grant is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

For more information about this study, please contact Wonmin Sohn at wonmin@msu.edu.

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