Flood relocation leaves poor communities in the lurch

Flood relocation leaves poor communities in the lurch

Flood disasters affect rich and poor alike, destroying families’ possessions and tanking home values. But a new study of FEMA buyout records finds that when the agency distributes money to relocate homeowners in flood-prone communities, wealthy communities get the lion’s share. As NPR’s Rebecca Hersher reports, one reason for this disparity is that FEMA relocation funds generally cover 75% of a home’s value, with local governments expected to fill in the gap. Many poorer localities don’t have the resources to make that match.

“We talk a lot about buyouts that have happened in New York or Houston or Charlotte. But what about all the small towns along the coast in New York state or along the coast of Texas or Mississippi or Louisiana?” (study author A. R.) Siders says. “What about places that don’t have dedicated planners, who don’t have the resources to make the 25% match with FEMA? Their homeowners may need just as much or more help in relocating away from risk.”


When federal health funding goes down, STIs go up
Sexually transmitted infections are on the rise across the United States, but the problem is particularly acute in the South, where comprehensive sex education is on the wane. But many states’ failures to educate their children about safe sex isn’t the only reason for this troubling trend. As Nola.com | The Advocate’s Emily Woodruff explains, falling federal funding for clinics treating STIs has left many people with inadequate access to specialized care, with Louisiana near the top of the list of high STI states. The state has made progress in recent years, but still has a long way to go.

“Louisiana is mirroring what’s going on in the country,” said Patty Kissinger, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Tulane University. In the past, she said, there were many federally-funded clinics that offered tests and treatments for STDs to vulnerable populations. Today, treatment often falls to primary-care physicians who don’t always have the same specialized training in STD prevention and care. “STDs are creeping up largely because the health care system is so fragmented right now,” Kissinger said.


Louisiana’s prisons profit from immigrant detention
With Louisiana’s criminal justice reforms helping to cut the state’s prison population, our prison industry has found another way to stay afloat: warehousing immigrants who have come to the United States seeking a better life. Louisiana houses about 8,000 of the nation’s 51,000 detained migrants, largely in rural facilities, many of which are operated by private companies. AP’s Nomaan Merchant explains that Louisiana has become a leading jailer of migrants seeking a new home in America.

In interviews, migrants and their families said officials sometimes used a solitary confinement cell to hold detainees accused of violating rules. To Winn’s Spanish speakers, it is known as a “pozo,” meaning a well or a hole. (…) Authorities at Winn say there’s been little trouble so far, as immigrants are better behaved and easier to oversee than convicts. “When you have convicted felons, they act a lot different,” said Keith Deville, the facility’s warden.


Community violence and loneliness go hand in hand
People living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence face trauma, fear and danger as a consequence of their ZIP code. According to a study published this month in the journal Health Affairs, they also often face those struggles alone. Route Fifty’s Emma Coleman explores how residents of communities experiencing significant violence are at a higher risk of loneliness.

Loneliness isn’t equally spread across the population. Tung and three colleagues recently studied neighborhoods in Chicago with high rates of violent crime to determine if exposure to violence impacts rates of loneliness. (…) Living in a community with a great deal of violence—even if a person is not directly a victim—can lead to living a lonelier life. Exposure to community violence was associated with a 3.3% reduction in the frequency of contact with people in their social network, and a 7.3% reduction in perceived support from friends.


Number of the Day
22%  – Proportion of all U.S. college students who are parenting while in school. 4.3 million college students nationwide care for children while working toward a degree. (Source: Government Accountability Office via the Center for Law and Social Policy)