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Houston City Officials Release New Resiliency Plan

The city of Houston released a new resilience strategy on Wednesday, outlining detailed plans to protect Houston against future natural disasters and other chronic stresses.

Buffalo Bayou
Buffalo Bayou

The Resilient Houston report outlines 18 high-level goals and corresponding targets to strengthen the city in the face of possible future threats, including flooding, hurricanes, extreme heat, poor air quality and aging infrastructure.

Some of those targets include removing all habitable structures from the floodway (the portion of a 100-year flood plain that is closest to a bayou) by 2030, investing $50B in major recovery, mitigation and modernization projects by 2040, and building at least 375,000 new homes across every income level by 2050.

The city is also aiming to construct at least 500 miles of trails and bike lanes by 2025, reach zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries by 2030, and provide all Houstonians with access to high-frequency public transportation choices within a half-mile by 2050.

The 186-page report also offers guidance on how to integrate resilience at every level, ranging from whole counties and cities down to neighborhoods and individuals.

Overall, Resilient Houston suggests 62 total actions to benefit the city. About one-third of the actions are underway, another third build on existing efforts using a resilience lens, and the final third are new actions that address gaps or opportunities, the report said.

The beginnings of the new strategy can be traced back to when Houston became a member of 100 Resilient Cities network in August 2018. The Rockefeller Foundation initially created the network in 2013 to help more cities build resilience to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

In February 2019, city of Houston Chief Resilience Officer Marissa Aho was hired to lead the development and implementation of a resilience strategy for Houston.

When the 100 Resilient Cities program formally ended in July, Houston helped to create the new Global Resilient Cities Network, to continue global collaboration between cities, mayors and chief resilience officers.

“Resilient Houston is designed to be a patchwork quilt that stitches together each aspect of resilience and integrates every partner into the framework, so we can all work toward common goals and targets,” Aho said in the report’s foreword.