Funding for Safe Rooms in Your Community

Tornadoes can be fascinating, but we all know they can also be destructive and even deadly. Minnesota is within central United States’ Tornado Alley. On average, the state has 28 tornadoes per year, typically in the months of May, June, July, August, and September.  A record year for tornadoes in Minnesota, 2010 saw 113 tornadoes reported throughout the state.

Not everyone has access to a safe location when bad weather strikes. Communities can help ensure the safety of its residents by offering a safe room; a place that provides safety from strong winds or tornadoes. Here are two funding options to consider if you are contemplating adding a safe room in your community.

Name of the Organization Providing the Grant

  • Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant
  • Department of Public Safety’s FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)

Name of the Grant

  • Grant #1: Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant
  • Grant #2: Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding for Residential and Community Safe Rooms

Grant Description

A safe room is constructed inside a home or in a nearby community location to provide safety from strong winds, such as those experienced during a tornado.

  • The Small Cities Development Program (SCDP) grant helps cities and counties with funding for housing, public infrastructure, and commercial rehabilitation projects, including safe rooms.
  • The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding for Residential and Community Safe Rooms provides funds for structures to be designed to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 361 criteria to provide “near-absolute protection” in extreme weather events. The purpose of this grant program is to enact mitigation measures that reduce lives lost from future disasters.

Who’s Eligible for the Grant?

  • The SCDP grant is available to units of government, including cities, townships, and counties.
  • The residential and community safe room grant funded through HMGP is available to individuals, businesses, and private nonprofits via local governments. However, individuals cannot apply directly for HMGP funding but can be sponsored through an appropriate sub-applicant via a local government, state agency, tribe or tribal agency, or private nonprofit.

Description About what the Grant is for

Financial assistance is provided to communities for projects that protect its members. The primary goal of these grants is to reduce the loss of life from the effects of natural hazards while providing shelter during extreme weather events. These rooms provide immediate life safety for at-risk populations requiring shelter in dangerous weather conditions.

Type of Funding

  • All funding assistance is provided through grants. For the SCDP grant, the maximum grant award for a Single Purpose project is $600,000. The maximum grant award for a Comprehensive project is $1.4 million.
  • The Department of Public Safety’s FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides up to 75 percent of the funds for mitigation projects.

Application Process and Deadline

If you are considering applying, now is a great time to make sure you have everything in order and ready to go.

  • SCDP pre-applications are due November 15 of each year. If selected, an applicant must submit the full application by the end of the following February.
  • Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding requires the applicant to develop and adopt hazard mitigation plans as a condition for receiving certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance. For more information, visit Hazard Mitigation Plan Requirement.



Homeland Security and Emergency website:


FEMA P-361: Design and Construction Guidance for Community Safe Rooms (FEMA, third edition, 2015) at

Contact senior funding specialist Pat Conroy at or 218-770-5956 to start your grant application today.