Available National Aid For Climate-Related Disasters Often Goes to Privileged White Communities
While frontline communities receive scant federal aid, high-income neighborhoods often receive the bulk of FEMA money.
May 26, 2021Updated 3 days ago
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In an investigative report by NPR, it was found that FEMA aid goes more towards rich, white communities than frontline communities. Federal money exacerbated existing inequalities in places like Houston, Texas as the federal government focused on rebuilding wealthier communities.
"Federal aid isn't necessarily allocated to those who need it most; it's allocated according to cost-benefit calculations meant to minimize taxpayer risk," NPR's report explained. "Put another way, after a disaster, rich people get richer and poor people get poorer."
NPR followed two families following the flooding in Houston: one white and one Black. They found that a year after the disaster, the white family was financially recovered, and the Black family was barely hanging on financially, struggling to get any help from FEMA or other government agencies.
For instance, the government has a buyout program to purchase land or homes that are disproportionately at risk for flooding. An analysis found that, of FEMA's 40,000 property buyouts, more than 85 percent were owned by white or non-Hispanic families.
Even when frontline communities do receive support, it often doesn't fit well with the specific situation or the people living there. In some situations, well-meaning organizations have visited the impacted community to offer support by raising awareness, but they frequently leave quickly without doing much actual help on-the-ground.
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How Federal Disaster Money Favors The Rich, Rebecca Hersher & Robert Benincasa, March 5, 2019
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