On Saturday, June 24, Oregonians came together to celebrate the passage of House Bill 3409 and House Bill 3630, setting our state on the direction of historic climate justice legislation. This Climate Resilience Package, which will combat the climate crisis, protect Oregon families from extreme weather, drive down costs and grow a greener economy, was an advocacy goal of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette and many community-based organizations. It will result in huge wins for frontline communities across Oregon who are most impacted by climate change, many of whom are people of color, rural residents and low-income residents that United Way of the Columbia-Willamette seeks to support. With HB 3409, our state will see a burst of federal and state funding to retrofit and build out Community Resilience Hubs in order to improve coordination and support ongoing work by community-based organizations that solidify our state’s disaster resilience efforts.
“The communities are going to be designing these Hubs based on their needs and desires. It will have information, it will have a website, wraparound services, solar on the roof, heat pumps, air purifiers and fire hardening,” said Simone Crowe of Oregon Just Transition Alliance, a main advocate of the Climate Resilience Package.
Metzin Rodriguez - Climate and Environmental Justice Policy Coordinator, Unite Oregon
Beyond the retrofits and building, these Hubs seek to build trust, community and interconnectedness in cities and towns across Oregon. They will serve a multitude of purposes, from community center, to one-stop resource shop to emergency gathering point. They will be built with the community they serve in mind and on-hand, with community priorities being recognized and realized throughout the process. Members of the coalition that sought to pass this bill hailed from across the state, representing a vast array of different community members and ensuring the community buy-in and support necessary to make these Hubs as effective as possible.
“There is importance placed in trust, and that is reflected in the idea of Community Resilience Hubs. This should be a place that people want to go,” said Verónika Núñez, Leadership and Advocacy Director at Adelante Mujeres. “If you’ve already been going to this place to do other things like work on your immigration status or get resources for language learning, it creates a natural correlation between this place that is already providing services and ties it to you when the need arises as a disaster strikes.”
That inherent tie in is vital when a disaster strikes. Chaos is inherent in these situations and the more work we do before crisis comes the better populations will be served when they need support the most. These Hubs will help communities prepare themselves before disaster as well, offering access to resources, teaching communities best practices, survival tips and more.
Verónika Núñez - Leadership and Advocacy Director, Adelante Mujeres
Beyond Community Resilience Hubs, the Climate Resilience Package included a raft of other green, future-forward changes to our state. HB 3409 includes funding for Resilient Efficient Buildings, setting a statewide heat pump installation goal of 500,000 by 2035, coordinating state agencies related to energy efficiency, codifying greenhouse gas reduction standards for new buildings, providing grant funding to encourage existing commercial buildings to improve energy efficiency and more.
HB 3630 combined multiple policy measures and provides $4.6 million in funding for energy projects. This bill creates a centralized navigation resource for consumers and businesses to access federal and state energy efficiency grants and rebates, funds and directs counties to engage in energy resilience planning to respond to increasing power grid demands and continues Oregon Department of Energy work to provide support to environmental justice communities for energy projects and capacity demands.
The Climate Resilience Package passed at the tail end of a raucous and interrupted legislative session, highlighting the importance of forward thinking and investment in climate resiliency now rather than later. United Way of the Columbia-Willamette is proud to be a part of the coalition that supports these necessary, community-protecting moves and will continue to highlight our most vulnerable Oregonian’s needs before, during and after crisis comes. To learn more about the passage of these bills, view the brief below from the Oregon Senate Majority Office and visit Oregon Just Transition Alliances website.