Today’s Solutions: September 22, 2021

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) manages the federal response to large-scale emergencies, but the agency has received criticism in the past for discriminatory aid programs as well as instituting disaster recovery initiatives that unfairly burden low-income and minority populations. Acknowledging its historical shortcomings, FEMA announced that it plans to take steps to improve equity in response and relief efforts. 

The agency has highlighted Covid-19 vaccine distribution as one key avenue for improvement. FEMA created a civil rights advisory group that aims to “identify and eliminate inequities” in the vaccination process. Additionally, the agency released a statement calling on the stricter evaluation of where relief money is allocated saying that recipients “should routinely consider the needs of all the populations they serve, including racial, ethnic and limited English-proficient communities, as well as individuals with disabilities, to ensure compliance with federal civil rights laws.”

Following criticisms of inadequate response after Hurricane Maria, FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration has also laid out a three-year plan to increase resilience in traditionally underserved communities. 

Although none of these changes have translated into tangible policy adjustments yet, Carlos Martín, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, says, “That’s a huge step forward that FEMA is even talking about equity publicly.”

One strategy that has been suggested for improving FEMA’s efficacy is bolstering emergency housing aid, which makes housing resources available even for individuals who are not homeowners. This would make more resources available for low-income communities where a majority of residents are renters.

Another solution is eliminating the “cost share” requirement which mandates that local governments match a portion of FEMA’s contributions. This requirement means that small local governments or communities with limited financial resources are left out of relief spending. 

Social justice advocates have been fighting for more equitable FEMA policies since 2005 when the agency faced intense scrutiny over its discriminatory handling of Hurricane Katrina. Although progress has been made over the past 15 years, there is still great room for improvement, so it is encouraging to see the agency take responsibility for its shortcomings and commit to action to improve.

Solutions News Source Print this article
Todays Solutions

A team of Irish goats is Dublin’s sol...

A new initiative located just outside of the city of Dublin, Ireland is getting creative with conservation and wildfire mitigation ... Read More

4 Tips for raising a bilingual child

Bilingual children have many advantages over their single-language-speaking counterparts. According to Ellen Bialystok, a psychology professor at York University in ... Read More

New study confirms brain benefits of ...

Earlier this year, we discussed how socialization can help prevent cognitive decline. Now, additional research from Penn State’s Center for ... Read More

New hologram hits you right in the feels

Scientists at the University of Glasgow are making our futuristic science fantasies a reality. They have created a system that ... Read More

7 Powerful benefits of pomegranates

Pomegranate season is upon us yet again, and to celebrate, we want to explore the many health benefits of this ... Read More

Climate-resistant coffee of the futur...

From meat to milk to chocolate, lab-grown products have increased in popularity in recent years, as people look for alternatives ... Read More