With climate disasters in the headlines worldwide, The Greenlining Institute applauded the California State Legislature for passing legislation, SB 155 and SB 170, that provides vital funding to help California’s most underserved communities fight climate change and cope with its increasingly dangerous effects. Earlier this summer, the governor and state legislators passed a budget that included $3.7 billion in spending for climate resilience programs. These budget trailer bills flesh out the details of how that money will be spent.
“California continues to lead by example with this unprecedented level of investment in climate resilience,” said Greenlining Institute Vice President of Policy Alvaro Sanchez. “This funding represents a critical down payment on what must be a long-term effort to protect our climate and build resilience in frontline communities. Communities of color and low-income Californians disproportionately bear the brunt of the climate crisis, and it will take sustained effort to ensure that our communities not only survive but thrive.”
“We thank Gov. Newsom for including these priorities in his May budget revision and the legislature for agreeing to fund them,” Sanchez added. “This couldn’t have gotten done without their collective action and the tireless efforts of countless community advocates.”
Key priorities included in the legislation include:
- Transformative Climate Communities. This groundbreaking but underfunded climate change program funds local communities to develop integrated programs to cut carbon emissions and create more livable neighborhoods, linking elements like clean transportation and clean energy with affordable housing and more. Despite being chronically underfunded in years past, the program received $115 million for the 2021-22 fiscal year and a commitment to $420 million over three years. The Greenlining Institute will release a detailed equity evaluation of this landmark program later this year.
- Capacity Building. Environmental racism has left too many communities without the resources needed to compete for investments to cope with increasingly severe heat waves, droughts, floods, etc. The budget provides $10 million this year and a commitment to $10 million next year to launch the Regional Climate Collaboratives program, which builds the capacity of impacted communities to make critical investments in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
- Low-Income Weatherization Program. This vital program, which in some years has gone completely unfunded, helps low-income families weatherize their homes, save energy and preserve health and safety during extreme weather. The program received $15 million in the new budget year targeted at multifamily housing.
- Zero-Emission Vehicles. The budget provides $150 million in the first year and a commitment to $400 million over three years for equity programs like Clean Cars 4 All, which helps lower-income drivers replace their old, polluting cars with clean vehicles.
- Urban Greening and Urban Forestry. These programs, which reduce carbon while bringing needed shade and cooling to communities lacking tree cover, receive $60 million for 2021-22 and a commitment to a total of $250 million over three years.
- Community Resilience Hubs. The legislation also calls for a total of $200 million from 2022-2024 to create a new grant program for community resilience hubs, which would provide integrated delivery of emergency response services in community institutions like libraries and health clinics.
“We’re encouraged by much of what is in this budget legislation, but it’s important to remember that only the first year of funding for these critical programs is guaranteed,” said Sona Mohnot, Greenlining’s Associate Director of Climate Equity. “At The Greenlining Institute, we will keep fighting to ensure California’s frontline communities get the resources they need over the long haul to fight climate change and build healthy, prosperous neighborhoods.”
To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.
THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.