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CUFA in Ohio celebrates a landmark victory in their efforts to secure FEMA funding to address Cincinnati’s sewer crisis, and digs in with a new podcast and training for its members!

On April 10, Cincinnati’s city council unanimously approved Vice Mayor Jan-Michele Kearney’s motion for the city to secure funding through FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure in Communities (BRIC) grant program to conduct a geotechnical study in the Evanston neighborhood, which has long been plagued by flooding, sewer back-ups and gas leaks. The move sets aside the funds required for Cincinnati to qualify for FEMA’s three-to-one match for the project.

This approval is a massive victory for Communities United for Action (CUFA), a People’s Action member group, who turned out in force at a city council meeting on March 27 to demand city officials take action to secure these funds, part of the more than $3 billion the Biden administration has made available to communities through FEMA to increase climate resilience nationwide.

CUFA actively participates in People’s Action’s Leveraging Federal Funds cohort, which helps local communities identify and access the federal resources which have been pledged to help communities, yet often get held up when, out of negligence, indifference or worse, state and local officials fail to access them.

The victory comes after years of struggle by CUFA to force city, county state and federal officials to address Cincinnati’s sewer crisis, which affects many homes in primarily African-American and low-income neighborhoods, like Evanston.

CUFA’s efforts to address the sewer crisis are also featured in Backed Up: A Crappy Podcast, a new six-part series produced by Cincinnati NPR station WVXU, in which many CUFA members are interviewed.

Building on these successes, on May 18 CUFA hosted its first-ever daylong agitational training for 20 of its members, which CUFA ED Alison Kromer created after attending People’s Action’s Training for Trainers in February. Members of Hoosier Action came to Cincinnati to help train CUFA’s members, which will help both organizations in their shared fight against Duke Energy, which dominates energy distribution in both states as well as in North and South Carolina, Florida and Kentucky, and which is notorious for unilateral rate hikes.

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