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Op-Ed: FEMA Failing to Respond to Housing Displacement After Disasters

With President Trump in Florida, Diane Yentel writes about the many people there still living without shelter after Hurricane Michael last year.
May 9, 2019, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Alan LeStourgeon

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, pens an opinion piece for the Orlando Sentinel to raise alarms about the lack of federal action in response to housing needs following Hurricane Michael, seven months ago.

"FEMA’s inexplicably and unacceptably slow response leaves thousands of low-income survivors continuing to sleep in tents, cars, doubled or tripled-up with other low-income families, or paying more than half of their incomes on rent, putting them at increased risk of evictions and homelessness," according to Yentel.

Among the distressing statistics shared by Yentel: Bay County, Florida reports that 5,000 children are now homeless as a result of the storm.

According to Yentel, the lack of response is a pattern evident in FEMA's response to Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Maria, and wildfires in California.

"After each disaster, FEMA consistently refused to provide critical housing solutions, like the Disaster Housing Assistance Program (DHAP), to help the most-vulnerable survivors get back on their feet," according to Yentel. "Instead, FEMA forced thousands of struggling families to live out of motel rooms through its Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) program. In doing so, the agency relied on a program that, by design, prevents many of the lowest-income people from receiving help altogether."

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Published on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 in Orlando Sentinel
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