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On October 28, 2020, new Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) Faculty Fellow Miyuki Hino, assistant professor of city and regional planning, gave a short Zoom presentation on voluntary buyout programs in North Carolina. Mai Thi Nguyen, associate professor of city and regional planning, joined her in answering questions from participants and Todd Owen, associate director at CURS, moderated. The second in the CURS Research on the Run series, we are happy to make this presentation and Q&A session available on video.

Voluntary Property Buyout Programs: An Evaluation of Best Practices

Miyuki Hino and Mai Thi NguyenIn the face of rising damages from floods, fires and other climate extremes, communities across the United States are considering retreat: moving infrastructure and households out of dangerous locations to reduce risk. To date, over 40,000 properties across 1,148 counties have been purchased by local governments, with the parcels subsequently preserved as open space.

While such voluntary property buyout programs are principally undertaken to reduce risk from climate hazards, they also function as a form of assisted mobility: helping households move to improve their livelihoods. Housing scholars have developed an extensive body of work addressing if and how such relocations improve wellbeing through evaluations of the Gautreaux, Moving to Opportunity, Housing Choice Voucher and HOPE VI programs.

Hino and Nguyen discussed evaluating voluntary floodplain buyout programs against key principles from housing programs. Their results suggest that buyout programs have adopted few lessons from housing programs, and implementing these best practices could improve the experiences and livelihoods of buyout participants. As more communities implement relocation for climate change adaptation, it is increasingly critical that these programs also support broader household wellbeing.

Presented in conjunction with the Carolina Climate Equity Commons.

Miyuki Hino is an assistant professor in the department of city and regional planning and an adjunct assistant professor in the environment, ecology and energy program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research examines the linkages between climate hazards, governance and public policy to drive effective and equitable adaptation to climate change. Recent work has focused on the impacts of sea level rise, the effects of flood risk on property markets and the use of managed retreat in adapting to climate change. Miyuki received a PhD in environment and resources from Stanford University and a BS in chemical engineering from Yale University.

Mai Thi Nguyen is an associate professor in the city and regional planning at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and director of the Center for Community Capital. She received her PhD in urban planning at the University of California, Irvine and her master’s in sociology at the Pennsylvania State University. She is currently the director of the Academic Leadership Program at the Institute for Arts and Humanities, the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program at the Institute of African American Research, and the Equity and Resilience Lab in the city and regional planning department. She is the former chair of the governing board of the Urban Affairs Association and president of the Faculty Women’s Interest Group at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning. She is the founder and administrator of Planners 2040, a Facebook discussion group with over 2,300 members who are urban planning and studies students, faculty and practitioners across the globe.


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