Wealthier counties receive more federal home buyouts in the wake of natural disasters than poorer areas, regardless of whether or not these homes are at increased risk of flooding, new research shows.
A study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances analyzes 40,000 voluntary buyouts made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency since 1989, finding that federal grants were given disproportionately to counties with higher population and income.
Out TODAY in Science Advances: a national look at FEMA-funded buyouts. 49 states. 1000 counties. Rich, dense counties buy out socially vulnerable neighborhoods. w/ @katharine_mach C Kraan, M Hino @chrfield E Johnston @StanfordWoods @UDelaware @UMiamiRSMAS https://t.co/2XorcqmnIY— A.R. Siders (@sidersadapts) October 9, 2019
The study theorizes that wealthier counties have more resources to apply for and administer federal grants than poorer ones. The study also finds that within those wealthier counties, the federal money is often used to tear down homes in poorer neighborhoods — which authors posit could be due to a combination of factors, including that local officials “are using the buyouts as an opportunity to get rid of neighborhoods that they don’t feel are desirable parts of their community,” author A.R. Siders told the New York Times.