Inicio Desastres Una nueva investigación muestra que los inquilinos estadounidenses son los más afectados por los huracanes.

Una nueva investigación muestra que los inquilinos estadounidenses son los más afectados por los huracanes.

Una nueva investigación muestra que los inquilinos estadounidenses son los más afectados por los huracanes.

Given the severe shortage of affordable housing in the United States, tenants living along the East and Gulf coasts are particularly vulnerable to hurricane-related disasters. Two new studies based on data from 2009 to 2018 show that tenants living along the East and Gulf coasts of the United States face rent increases, higher eviction rates, and lack of affordable housing after a hurricane. The research will be presented in December at the annual meeting of the Society for Risk Analysis Conference 2023 in Washington, DC.

Both analytical studies are based on 10 years of data (2009 to 2018) on housing, hurricane disasters, and socioeconomic factors at the county level in 19 coastal states, from Maine to Texas. The period includes devastating hurricanes like Irma (2011), Sandy (2012), and Matthew (2016).

The impacts of a hurricane on rent affordability

Dr. Kelsea Best of Ohio State University and her colleagues analyzed how the frequency and intensity of a hurricane correspond to changes in average rent and the affordability of rental housing over time. They found that average rents increase the year following more intense hurricanes due to the decreased availability of housing. Their results also suggest that the appearance of a hurricane in a given year (or in the previous year) reduces affordable rental housing. This was especially true in counties with a higher percentage of tenants and people of color.

More than a third of the U.S. population (44 million households) lives in rental housing. Tenants have less access to post-disaster government assistance programs and benefits from federal mitigation programs, such as home purchases. Additionally, tenant populations are more likely to have insufficient insurance: only 57% will have insurance policies in 2022 (Insurance Information Institute).

«Most federal post-disaster assistance programs are targeted towards homeowners,» says Best. «Our study shows that deliberate attention should be given to tenants, especially low-income and minority tenants, in immediate disaster recovery efforts and in the years following.»

She suggests that future local, state, and federal policies should provide explicit protection and support for tenants after disasters. These could include eviction moratoriums, limiting charges for late rent payments, increasing access to emergency rental assistance, and freezing rent increases. Additionally, efforts that prioritize the supply of affordable and stable housing with updated rental price tracking in the market could provide a crucial reference for policymakers to understand and respond to tenant struggles, especially during post-disaster periods.

«Without such deliberate consideration of rent and tenants, disaster recovery risks exacerbate the affordable housing crisis for some of the most vulnerable populations,» says Best.

Hurricanes and eviction risk

Another threat that tenants may face after a disaster is eviction due to income loss or lack of effective rental assistance when housing supply is reduced during the recovery phase.

Dr. Qian He of Rowan University and her colleagues investigated how disasters and federal assistance contribute to tenants’ eviction risks. They found that hurricanes corresponded to higher eviction filings and threats of eviction by inflating the market rent in the year and one year after the hurricane. Counties that received higher amounts of aggregate federal aid (both post-disaster and mitigation assistance) were associated with lower eviction filings and threats of eviction two years after the disaster.

According to He, this suggests that federal post-disaster assistance programs can help mitigate tenants’ housing vulnerability during disaster recovery. «Our findings indicate that coordinated public policies and tenant assistance programs, specifically after disaster events, can become crucial in ensuring that at-risk communities have access to sufficient financial resources and legal support to help tenants avoid eviction,» says He.

For example, during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a national eviction moratorium. This law provided immediate relief to over 6.5 million tenant households nationwide who were behind on rent payments and those at higher risk of eviction. «Similar eviction moratoriums after a climate-related disaster, potentially as part of federal recovery efforts, could provide valuable protection for tenants in affected communities,» says He.


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