Who Gets Emergency Housing Relief? An Analysis of FEMA Individual Assistance Data After Hurricane María
Published on May 10, 2022
In May of 2022, the Housing Policy Debate journal published a research article carried out by CNE’s research unit on FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program after Hurricane María. Following, an abstract of the article:
In the months after Hurricane María’s devastation of Puerto Rico, press outlets and advocacy groups documented how Puerto Rico’s experience with housing repair and reconstruction programs was rife with complaints and inconsistencies regarding approval of applications and denial of support, especially among vulnerable communities. These problems are not unique to Puerto Rico and have been frequently raised by numerous communities in the United States that have endured disasters. This article contributes to the critical task of revealing postdisaster damages and reconstruction trends through a detailed examination of housing and personal property damages and benefits received through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Individual Assistance (IA) Program after Hurricane María. It also shows which municipalities were most affected and have the greatest housing needs. We demonstrate that, in the aggregate, poor or geographically vulnerable households were not likely to be underserved. Nonetheless, poor households are left with a greater burden in the form of pending housing needs after aid relief has been allocated, rendering them more vulnerable to being displaced. Furthermore, households that lacked clear tenure status were unable to access IA aid because of administrative and procedural burdens.
Heatmap of total household damage, as estimated by FEMA’s Individual Assistance program.
Source: FEMA & Puerto Rico Planning Board.
Click the link in the sidebar to download the paper.
The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Housing Policy Debate, 10 May 2022, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10511482.2022.2055612