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Justice40 Initiative

From day one, the Biden-Harris Administration named racial equity and addressing the climate crisis as immediate priorities and called on a whole-of-government approach to address two of the most important and urgent challenges of our time.

These issues are related and often intersecting. So, the Administration created the Justice40 Initiative which aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate and clean energy, including sustainable transportation, to disadvantaged communities. Read more about the Justice40 Initiative and DOT’s progress below.

Implementation Update

On January 27, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, creating the government-wide Justice40 Initiative. On July 20, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative (M-21-28), which has guided the Department’s work on Justice40 along with relevant statutory authorities.

Public feedback is being solicited for a brand new tool that was recently released by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) aims to help Federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities (DACs) that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution as part of the Justice40 Initiative. Feedback is being accepted through May 25, 2022 and will help refine the tool to ensure that everyone is receiving the benefits intended from Federal programs. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) intends to use this tool in its implementation of the Justice40 initiative after it is released out of beta and we encourage interested stakeholders to provide feedback to CEQ on the tool.  CEQ is offering the following webinars and listening sessions to learn more about the tool.

While CEJST is still in beta, the Department is using an interim definition to identify disadvantaged communities for Justice40-covered programs, consistent with OMB and relevant statutory authorities. DOT will use this interim definition to ask applicants to Justice40-covered programs to identify how their projects benefit DACs. An overview of this interim definition, a related mapping tool, and a list of funding opportunities using this definition can be found below.

Relevant Funding Opportunities and Programs

The following DOT programs are using the interim definition of DACs to ask discretionary grant applicants and formula program administrators to identify how their projects benefit DACs.

  1. Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program (NOFO closed April 14, 2022).
  2. Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) discretionary grant program (NOFO closes May 16, 2022).
  3. Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Opportunity (NOFO closes May 23, 2022).
  4. Low or No Emission and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program | FTA (dot.gov) discretionary grant program (NOFO closes May 31, 2022).
  5. America’s Marine Highway Program | MARAD (dot.gov) discretionary grant program (NOFO closes June 17, 2022).
  6. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program (State Electric Vehicle Deployment Plans are due August 1, 2022).
  7. Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) – discretionary grant program (NOFO closes September 15, 2022).  Webinar Series: Getting Ready for Safe Streets and Roads for All Grants | US Department of Transportation
  8. Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning FY2022 Notice of Funding | FTA (dot.gov)- discretionary grant program (NOFO closes July 25, 2022).

 

**COMING SOON**

    Reconnecting Communities – Funding supports planning, technical assistance, and capital construction to restore community connectivity through the removal, retrofit, mitigation, or replacement of eligible transportation infrastructure facilities that create barriers to mobility, access, or economic development.  Watch a recording of the May 19 webinar. Use Passcode: xY2t?p3$

     

    This is not a comprehensive list of all DOT programs that will be using the interim definition of DACs, but represents the list of programs that have been announced in Fiscal Year 2022. As more programs are announced, this list will be updated.

     

    Interim DOT Disadvantaged Communities Definition and Mapping Tool - Updated

    (Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (arcgis.com))

    Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts shapefile (version 2 .0, posted 5/10/22)

    As part of DOT’s work in implementing the Justice40 Initiative, the Department developed an interim definition for disadvantaged communities (“DACs”) that may be used under Justice40-covered grant programs. In order to help grant applicants determine whether the locations of their proposed projects were in a DAC, the Department created a mapping tool, which went live on January 28, 2022. The Department subsequently conducted a data review and found that the mapping tool had data errors affecting approximately 11% of U.S. Census tracts. As of May 10, 2022, the DAC designations in the mapping tool have been corrected and are available for public use in connection with Justice40-covered programs.  

    The Department has begun to inventory grant programs that referred to this tool. The Department is contacting affected applicants directly to notify them of this update. Relevant grant programs will provide information about how they are identifying affected applicants. Other users of this data may wish to revisit the site and update any analyses based on the mapping tool. The Department apologizes for any inconvenience or confusion this error has caused. 

    Additional Information

    As part of its implementation of the historic Justice40 Initiative, and consistent with relevant statutory authorities, the U.S. Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) developed a definition for disadvantaged communities (“DACs”) to be utilized in connection with certain criteria under Justice40-covered grant programs. Informed by an internal and external collaborative research process, this definition comprises data for 22 indicators collected at the U.S. Census tract level, which are then grouped into six (6) categories of transportation disadvantage. To assist grant applicants in identifying whether a proposed project is located in a DAC, USDOT provided a list of U.S. Census tracts that meet the DAC definition and a corresponding mapping tool, available at Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (arcgis.com)

    Following publication and use of these resources, USDOT conducted a data quality review and determined that the mapping tool, which was made available on January 28, 2022, contained data errors that caused some U.S. Census tracts to be incorrectly designated as disadvantaged or not disadvantaged. The Department has confirmed these errors with its Justice40 methodology contractor and has taken intensive steps to fix them, as well as evaluate their impact. Based on these corrective efforts, 8,316 Census tracts—which compose 11.4% of the total U.S. Census tracts—have had their disadvantaged status changed (“changing tracts”). Please see below for a detailed breakdown:

    • 5,129 changing tracts were incorrectly designated as disadvantaged, but USDOT has determined that they should not have been designated as disadvantaged.
    • 3,187 changing tracts were incorrectly designated as not disadvantaged, but USDOT has determined that they should have been designated as disadvantaged.
    • DOT has developed a map of the tracts with the following layers that can be turned on or off.  Please use the layer tool  in the upper right corner to access the different layers.
      • Historically Disadvantaged Communities - Version 2- National map showing all Disadvantaged and Non-disadvantaged Census Tracts.
      • Now Disadvantaged - Census Tracts whose designation has now changed to Disadvantaged
      • Now Non-disadvantaged - Census Tracts whose designation has now changed to Non-disadvantaged

    As of May 10, 2022, the DAC designations in the mapping tool have been corrected and made available for public use in connection with Justice40-covered programs. The Department is communicating this update to affected applicants. Other users who relied on the tool before that date may wish to review the lists and maps linked above. Immediate questions can also be directed to gmo@dot.gov.

    For ease of reference, the following DOT programs are using the definition of DACs to ask discretionary grant applicants and formula program administrators to identify how their projects benefit DACs.

    1. Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program (NOFO closed April 14, 2022).  Please refer to https://www.transportation.gov/RAISEgrants for RAISE-specific details on the impacted census tracts that are relevant to the RAISE NOFO applications.
    2. Airport Terminal Program discretionary grant program (NOFO closed March 28, 2022)
    3. Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) discretionary grant program (NOFO closes May 16, 2022).
    4. Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant Opportunity (NOFO closes May 23, 2022).
    5. Low or No Emission and Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program (NOFO closes May 31, 2022).
    6. America’s Marine Highway Program (NOFO closes June 17, 2022).
    7. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) formula program (State Electric Vehicle Deployment Plans due August 1, 2022).
    8. Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) – discretionary grant program (NOFO closes September 15, 2022).
    9. Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning FY2022 Notice of Funding | FTA (dot.gov)- discretionary grant program (NOFO closes July 25, 2022).
    10. University Transportation Centers | US Department of Transportation - discretionary grant program (Letter of Intent due July 1, 2022; Applications due August 25, 2022)
    11. Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grants | PHMSA (dot.gov) - - discretionary grant program (NOFO closes July 25, 2022).

    Transportation Disadvantaged Community Interim Definition

    Consistent with OMB’s Interim Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative, DOT’s interim definition of DACs includes (a) certain qualifying census tracts, (b) any Tribal land, or (c) any territory or possession of the United States. DOT has provided a mapping tool to assist applicants in identifying whether a project is located in a Disadvantaged Community, available at Transportation Disadvantaged Census Tracts (arcgis.com). A shapefile of the geospatial data is available below.

    The DOT interim definition for DACs was developed by an internal and external collaborative research process (see recordings from November 2021 public meetings). It includes data for 22 indicators collected at the census tract level and grouped into six (6) categories of transportation disadvantage. The numbers in parenthesis show how many indicators fall in that category:

    • Transportation access disadvantage identifies communities and places that spend more, and take longer, to get where they need to go. (4)
    • Health disadvantage identifies communities based on variables associated with adverse health outcomes, disability, as well as environmental exposures. (3)
    • Environmental disadvantage identifies communities with disproportionately high levels of certain air pollutants and high potential presence of lead-based paint in housing units. (6)
    • Economic disadvantage identifies areas and populations with high poverty, low wealth, lack of local jobs, low homeownership, low educational attainment, and high inequality. (7)
    • Resilience disadvantage identifies communities vulnerable to hazards caused by climate change. (1)
    • Equity disadvantage identifies communities with a with a high percentile of persons (age 5+) who speak English "less than well." (1)

    To identify the census tracts that could be considered transportation disadvantaged, the DOT Justice40 team took five steps:

    1. For each census tract, the percentile value is calculated for each of the 22 indicators, where the 99th percentile represents the most disadvantaged.
    2. Within each category, the average percentile for each tract is calculated.
    3. For each category, a tract is assigned a value of one (1) if it is in the 50th percentile of disadvantage (percentile ranking average = .5 or higher) and zero (0) otherwise. For the resilience category only, a tract is assigned a value of one (1) is it is in the top 75th percentile of disadvantage (.75 or higher).
    4. The scores for each category are summed for each census tract, resulting in a score ranging from zero (0), not in the 50th percentile of disadvantage in any category, to six (6), ranking in the 50th percentile of disadvantage in each of the six categories.
    5. A census tract is considered transportation disadvantaged if it has a score of four (4) or higher, interpreted as ranking in the top 50% of the average scores in each category, where higher scores represent more disadvantage.

    Underlying Indicators and Sources in DOT Definition of Disadvantaged Communities

    Underlying Indicators and Sources in DOT Definition of Disadvantaged Communities

    Variable

    Description

    Data Source

    >30 min commute

    Percent of total population with a drive time to employment greater than or equal to 30 minutes

    (1)

    No Vehicle

    Percent of total population with no vehicle(s) available

    (2)

    Walkability 

    A composite index of economic and built environment characteristics representing the extent to which the location is not supportive to walking

    (3)

    Transportation Burden

    Transportation Costs % Income for the Regional Typical Household

    (1) + (6)

    Population 65 and older

    Percent of total population over age 64

    (2)

    Uninsured

    Percent of population without health insurance

    (2)

    Disability

    Percent of the non-institutionalized population with any disability

    (2)

    Homes Built Before 1960

    Percent of housing units built before 1960 (lead paint indicator)

    (4)

    Diesel

    EJ Index for Diesel particulate matter level in air

    (4)

    Cancer

    EJ Index for Air toxics cancer risk

    (4)

    Traffic Proximity

    EJ Index for Traffic proximity and volume

    (4)

    PM25

    EJ Index for PM2.5 level in air

    (4)

    Ozone

    Ozone level in air

    (4)

    Less HS Education

    Percent of total population, age 25 and older, whose reported education is short of a high school diploma

    (2)

    Renters

    Proportion of occupied housing units not occupied by property owners

    (1)

    Unemployment

    Percent of civilian labor force reported as unemployed

    (2)

    GINI Index

    Endemic inequality

    (7)

    Low Income

    Percent of total population reported at or below area median income

    (2)

    Poverty

    Percent of population below Federal Poverty Level

    (2)

    Housing Costs

    Housing Costs % Income for the Regional Typical Household

    (1)

    Climate Hazards

    Expected annual loss of life, building value and agricultural value from 18 climate hazards

    (5)

    Linguistic Isolation

    Percent of households (interpreted as individuals) in linguistic isolation

    (2)

    Data Sources

    1. U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey (ACS) 5 Year Estimates 2015-2019. 2019.
    2. Center for Disease Control. Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2021 Oct 20]. Available from: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/placeandhealth/svi/index.html
    3. Ramsey K, Bell A. Smart Location Database: Version 2.0. Environ Prot Agency EPA. 2014;1–52.
    4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2021 May 5]. Available from: https://www.epa.gov/ejscreen
    5. U.S. Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency. National Risk Index [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 Jan 6]. Available from: https://​haz​ards​.fema​.gov/nri/
    6. HUD Exchange Location Affordability Index - HUD Exchange
    7. FEMA Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool (GINI Index) – FEMA.gov/RAPT

    Public Meetings

    In November 2021, USDOT hosted two virtual public meetings related to the Justice40 Initiative. During these interactive meetings, participants heard from senior USDOT leaders about the Justice40 Initiative and were asked for input on it. Both sessions were open to the public, but content differed based on the expected prior knowledge of participants. We anticipate the information covered will be of interest to members of impacted communities, potential USDOT funding recipients such as state, regional, and local government agencies, tribal nations, academic institutions, community-based, non-profit, and private-sector organizations.

    Please see the description of these sessions below and watch the recordings based on your interest.

    Session #1: On November 9, USDOT hosted the first session in a two-part interactive series on the Justice40 initiative. This first session introduced the Justice40 initiative and discussed the benefits that transportation investments can bring to disadvantaged communities. The session assumed no prior knowledge of USDOT structure, programs, funding mechanisms, or terminology. 

    Session #2: On November 16, USDOT hosted the second session in a two-part interactive series on the Justice40 initiative. This second session asked participants to provide input on the types of data and metrics that USDOT can use to develop a framework for transportation programs impacting communities. The session assumed some prior knowledge of USDOT structure, programs, funding mechanisms, and terminology as well as the types of data used in environmental justice and related fields. Though not required, participants are encouraged to watch session #1 for additional context ahead of session #2. 

    Additional Resources


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    Last updated: Monday, June 6, 2022