In the wake of Hurricane Katrina we wondered what we could do to help. We settled on four things:
1) advocate on the behalf of the housing needs of the Katrina evacuees;
2) work with the State of Texas to try to come up with a good plan to help the victims of hurricane Rita rebuild their homes;
3) develop model policies to address the rebuilding needs of low income victims of future natural disasters so that low income people don’t go through this mess again; and
4) prototype some housing designs that can be used to rapidly and cost-effectively rebuild the homes of low income people destroyed by disasters.
We learned two fundamental truths from our work in these areas. First, we as a society and in particular our government really do not have a viable plan to assist low income people to recover their housing in the wake of a natural disaster. Second, the needs of low-income disaster survivors are fundamentally different than the needs of middle and higher income disaster survivors in terms of housing recovery.
Given all of the hand wringing and angst coming from government and politicians you would assume that a lot of attention was being paid to learning these lessons from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
You would be wrong.