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Disasters can permanently wipe out affordable homes unless the community plans in advance

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Tornadoes and wildfires that devastated the community Kentucky To Colorado In the last few weeks of 2021, thousands of people were evacuated or lost their homes. For many of them, it will take months, if not years, to rebuild their homes.


This is especially difficult for low-income residents.

As Professor of city planningI am studying the impact of disasters on affordability housing, Resilience and recovery. The loss of hundreds of homes in Midwestern towns and Boulder County, Colorado shows two aspects of its impact, and as the town recovers, communities are now trying to protect the most vulnerable populations. Shows why you need to plan. In doing so, they also protect their economy.

Why low-income households face higher risk

With middle Low-income households For several important reasons, they tend to occupy the most dangerous homes in the community.

beginning, Land value It tends to be lower in high-risk or otherwise less desirable areas, such as lowlands where floods are known, near toxic facilities, or in suburban areas where codes designed to protect homes cannot be enforced. I have. The houses built there tend to be more affordable.

Second, as the community grows, old homes become “filtering”Move wealthier households to new homes and make older, older homes available to low-income households. Houses were often built under less stringent building codes It is usually poorly maintained and can be physically vulnerable.

Third, historical separation and persistent patterns of continued discrimination in real estate and lending limit these issues by limiting the ability of black and Hispanic families to afford low-risk neighborhoods. May worsen.

According to the survey, low-income households Highly likely to be damaged by natural disastersBut they are likely to take Much longer to recover (2 to 3 times longer)..

What defines poverty and other household characteristics, such as racial or ethnic minority status, poor education, disability, or renting a home rather than owning it, led by a single mother? Researchers call it “social vulnerability”.. ”

The location and quality of housing, coupled with the vulnerabilities of the inhabitants, means that the people most affected by the disaster are often the most difficult to recover from the disaster.

Slow recovery affects the entire community

Communities need to understand that slow recovery of vulnerable households can slow recovery of the entire community.

Researchers found it Housing recovery is strongly linked to business recovery.. Workers need housing to get back to work, and businesses need workers so they can resume work.

At Rockport, Texas, where Hurricane Harvey landed in 2017, there’s a careful story. One year after the hurricaneHotels and restaurants, even if part of a national chain, struggled to reopen for the important tourist season in Rockport. Affordable housing For workers. Many of those workers had moved to San Antonio, two and a half hours away.

Many homes cannot be exchanged for the same price

Housing recovery is usually left to the market. The market is working pretty well for well-insured homeowners. However, for low-income households, including renters, it can be difficult to return to your home or neighborhood.

In a recessionary market where homes are low in value, such as many homes affected by the December tornado in Kentucky and the Midwest, alternative prices are not enough to rebuild comparable homes. House prices in these areas can average less than US $ 100,000. Today it is almost impossible to build a house for that.

Hotmarkets like Boulder County, Colorado face another challenge. Rebuilding in these markets will allow developers and speculators to take advantage of redevelopment opportunities.Studies suggest that Affordable homes are almost always replaced by more expensive homes It targets wealthier demographics.And for Low-income earners Those who rent a house and lose it in a disaster are unlikely to be able to return to their original development. Little is known about where they end up.

Safety nets exist, but they are inadequate.

Short-term support from FEMA Individual Support Program Helps evacuated households find temporary housing and repair qualified housing.Assistance can also come from Community development block subsidy From the Department of Housing and Urban Development, these funds take months or years to arrive, and spending plans submitted by the state often misdirection the funds and are rarely overlooked.

What can i do?

Then what can be done to ensure Vulnerable inhabitants Can I rebuild and go back? Several communities have tried new ideas.

Flood during Hurricane Harvey in 2017 Lagrange, Texas Experimenting with community land trusts.. These include co-ownership of land and private ownership of the unit. Residents need to occupy the unit for a given period of time, get a tiny percentage of the increase in land prices, and go to the co-operative for the rest. This approach allows residents to pool resources for land purchases and maintain affordability over the long term.

Boulder County Relax rental rules To help displaced persons find temporary housing after a fire.

Close monitoring of the collection fund is also important to ensure that the most in need are supported. Following Hurricane Ike and Dolly in 2008, the Texas Low-Income Housing Information Service, now known as Texas Housers. Sued TexasClaims that the National Reconstruction Plan failed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable Texans. The resulting agreement provided an additional $ 3 billion in aid and continued monitoring of funding ensured that it helped rebuild hundreds of homes for low-income households. ..

Almost every community in the United States is becoming more and more vulnerable to certain natural disasters caused by climate change.Washington post Analysis of the Federal Disaster Declaration It turns out that 40% of Americans lived in counties that were hit by extreme climate-related weather in 2021 alone.

Planning disaster recovery to ensure that the most vulnerable members of the community can return will increase resilience and vitality of the community.


New tools estimate the amount of affordable homes a city needs


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Quote: Unless the community plans in advance (February 11, 2022), a disaster could permanently wipe out affordable homes.

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Disasters can permanently wipe out affordable homes unless the community plans in advance

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