Improving the Disaster Recovery of Low-Income Families
Comoderated by Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director, Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, Wharton School, The University of Pennsylvania.
The costs of natural disasters can be wide ranging, including not just property damage, but broader negative impacts on economic, social, and physical well-being. Research has shown that low income households and communities suffer disproportionately from disasters. Disasters can act as tipping points for families and individuals on the edge, pushing the marginally homeless into homelessness, those living paycheck-to-paycheck into debt and financial insecurity, and consuming any small savings that had been accumulated for housing, education, or other purposes.
For larger scale disaster events, there are several federal assistance programs that are typically activated to support recovery. Unfortunately, however, these programs fail to provide needed assistance to the most vulnerable people. Many lower-income families do not qualify for disaster loans, the FEMA Individual Assistance grants are insufficient to fund rebuilding, and funding from HUD takes months or even years to reach needed families. Insurance can provide greater funding, typically faster than federal aid, but many households who need the financial protection of insurance the most are the least able to afford it.
How can federal disaster aid programs be improved to assist low-income households? What policy changes need to be made to support effective recovery for low-income households?
A collaboration with the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center where the expert submissions are simultaneously presented in the Risk Center’s Digital Dialogues.