Federal Disaster Funds Favor Rich White Towns – Should the Process Be Revised?
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by Countable | 10.5.18
- As Texans continue to recuperate from Hurricane Harvey, small, rich, white towns in southeast Texas are receiving a disproportionate amount of federal disaster recovery funds.
- A new report by CityLab found that Harvey aid is shortchanging cities with black, working-class residents hurt by the storm, leading to racial disparities in recovery funding.
- While the wealthy, nearly all-white town of Taylor Landing got about $60,000 per affected person, nearby Port Arthur – with its high poverty rate and significant black population – saw $84 per affected person.
The report attributed the disparity to the fact that some federal recovery money trickles down to county and city governments without taking into account the size of a town’s population or the severity of the storm’s impact.
As a result, small towns receiving recovery grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development get more money than they need, while larger cities get shortchanged. Since larger cities in the area have larger minority populations, the distribution creates a racial disparity in Harvey aid for white and black residents living along the gulf coast.
The disproportionate damage that climate-related disasters such as Hurricane Harvey inflicts on communities of color is a broader issue.
The divergent and intensified effect of climate change on minority groups has been classified by some experts as a type of environmental racism — a concept that focuses on the interplay between race and exposure to pollutants, denial of resources, or a combination of both.
An Atlantic article explains environmental racism as the allocation of “environmental risks … disproportionately along the lines of race, often without the input of the affected communities of color,” before elaborating on the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent conclusion that environmental racism is, in fact, real.
What do you think?
Should the process for allocating federal disaster recovery funds be revised? If so, how? Tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / RoschetzkyIstockPhoto)
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