Disaster victim activists concerned about FEMA’s fairness, transparency

Cases have fueled persistent concerns about the fairness and transparency of FEMA's process for determining who qualifies for help in the first, crucial months after a disaster.

News Story (Texas)

Mike Snyder
Houston Chronicle
January 25, 2018

Tags: Disaster Recovery

Organizations mentioned/involved: Lone Star Legal Aid


Lawyers and community organizers who have worked with survivors of multiple disasters cite a range of reasons why deserving applicants may be turned down – unqualified or indifferent home inspectors, unclear rules, an assumption that many applicants have fraudulent intent. Some say applicants are being rejected because their homes were in poor condition before the storm.

These issues have surfaced, to varying degrees, since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, advocates say. Despite signs of improvement, some are convinced that many people still aren’t getting the help they deserve.

“We’ve seen it getting better,” said Saundra Brown, the disaster response manager for Lone Star Legal Aid, a service for the poor, “but FEMA is a giant bureaucracy, and they have to be sued periodically to change things.”