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Building Better Disaster Relief for Homeowners

hurricane vortexIn the wake of Hurricane Florence, disaster relief is underway for the Carolinas. Leading up to the hurricane, the Urban Institute partnered with the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service to determine where households may get left behind in recovery efforts following disasters.

One issue the study found was the lack of complete damage assessments following disasters. Despite advancements in procedures and assessment, many homes still fall short when determining eligibility for public and charitable assistance programs. The Urban Institute notes that some properties might be inaccessible to inspectors for reasons related or unrelated to the disaster.

Additionally, the study found that low income households may be disproportionately left behind in the eligibility process due to the fact that the damage to their homes falls below an eligibility threshold or because their repair costs are underestimated. Often the need estimates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency do not account for the disproportionate burden that damage costs have on low-income households.

Those who do apply for aid may face additional complications in the application process. THe complicated and confusing application process coupled with the short time frame for applications mena some may not receive the assistance they need in time.

Inconsistent rules and regulations as well as an inability to link administrative data systems across federal and local agencies and private insurers could mean problems for aid agencies. This prevents federal and local agencies from providing integrated case management for disaster-affected households and expediting aid delivery for those with the greatest need.

Last, according to the Urban Institute, disaster programs and their data exist outside the world of housing and community development and its knowledge base. The Institute notes that this system is not designed to address the intersection of current housing and community challenges with the expected impact of climate change. Communities will need to have better knowledge about housing, household conditions, and local housing construction and rebuilding beforehand and to start envisioning what their communities should be like after a disaster strikes to recover from disasters more quickly.

Find the report form Urban Institute here.

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Harding University, he has covered numerous topics across the real estate and default servicing industries. Additionally, he has written B2B marketing copy for Dallas-based companies such as AT&T. An East Texas Native, he also works part-time as a photographer.
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