Tuesday, December 8, 2020 | 11:00 a.m. to Noon MT

The Opportunities and Challenges of Implementing Buyouts

Buyout Image

Webinar Description:

Home buyout programs are intended to permanently relocate people and property out of high-risk areas. Buyouts have been in use in the United States for more than forty years and they are increasingly being implemented by local and state governments in response to hazards, including climate-related hazards. While buyouts have the potential to provide significant benefits to households, communities, and governments, empirical research and practice raise concerns about the use of buyouts as mitigation or recovery tools. Beyond their impacts on relocated households, which are still not well understood, buyouts are inextricably linked to issues of property rights, land use, and economics, and have far-reaching physical and social implications on surrounding communities. In this webinar, a panel of cross-sector experts will review the current state of knowledge about buyouts and discuss questions, concerns, and possibilities associated with relocation through buyout programs.


Alex Greer
Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany

Fawn Z. McGee
Director, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Blue Acres Buyout Program

Rob Moore
Senior Policy Analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council

Elyse Zavar
Assistant Professor, University of North Texas

Natural Hazards Center Overview Slides


Mind the Gap: Reconciling Mitigation and Recovery in Home Buyout Programs

The Devil Is in the Details: Linking Home Buyout Policy, Practice, and Experience After Hurricane Sandy

Home Buyouts: A Tool for Mitigation or Recovery?

A Historical Assessment of Home Buyout Policy: Are We Learning or Just Failing?

Alex Greer

Alex Greer is an associate professor in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany. Greer conducts interdisciplinary, mixed methods research on a number of topics related to disaster science, such as hazard adjustments, relocation decision-making processes, and organizational culture. He has a number of ongoing projects, including a National Science Foundation-funded study exploring earthquake adjustment in Oklahoma, a Quick Response project studying buyouts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, and a study funded by the International Association of Fire Chiefs investigating organizational culture and leadership in the fire service.

Fawn Z. McGee

Fawn Z. McGee has worked with the Green Acres Program since 1995, and became Chief of the State Land Acquisition Program in 2004. McGee manages the budget and negotiations to purchase lands for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Divisions of Park & Forestry and Fish & Wildlife. Additionally, she directs the State Blue Acres Buyout Program, which purchases flood-prone properties from homeowners at pre-storm value, demolishes them, and restores the land for conservation and flood mitigation purposes. McGee and her team have secured more than $300 million through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for this purpose.

Rob Moore

Rob Moore is the Director of the Water & Climate Team at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). His work revolves around government policy and decision-making related to climate resilience and adaptation, sea level rise, flood risk, and disaster preparedness and response. He has focused on reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program, efficiency and accessibility for flood-prone home buyouts, and mechanisms to ensure that future development is consistent with projections of future climate impacts.

Elyse Zavar

Elyse Zavar is an assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Management and Disaster Science at the University of North Texas. Zavar uses mixed-methods approaches to learn how communities reconstruct post-disaster landscapes to reduce risk to future hazards, and how they design, manage, and use post-buyout open space. Zavar is a 2020 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine Gulf Research Program Early-Career Research Fellow and is currently studying commemoration following relocation programs induced by technological hazards, the Hurricane Harvey buyout program in Harris County, Texas, and the impact of COVID-19 on parks, heritage sites and protected places.