Hurricanes Hit Affordable Housing

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When hurricanes hit, it’s easy to show the damage: downed power lines, uprooted trees and destroyed houses. But when those things are removed or cleaned up, there is a more insidious damage that still lurks and is hard to portray: a lack of affordable housing.

And that hits renters in the coastal United States especially hard, according to new research from Ohio State University.

The study looks into how affordable rent is in the wake of hurricanes, weather disasters that are becoming more common due to climate change. Researchers found that after a hurricane, the number of rental units usually decreases, which leads to higher rent prices. Some states, like Florida, actually have a moratorium on rent increases after disasters — but it only lasts for a month. Meanwhile, the damages from hurricanes can sometimes take years to repair.  Other research backs that up, with one study from 2022 finding that 40 percent of rental units are in the path of disaster.

The trouble often comes because tenants are vulnerable in a multitude of ways, according to Kelsea Best, lead author and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Ohio State University. Specifically, renters are contending with the “overlapping crises of housing affordability and climate-related disasters in the United States.”

Another finding from the researchers: Both eviction filings and threats of eviction went up in the wake of hurricanes, which could be fueling housing instability and displacement in the wake of disasters.

Read the full article about hurricanes and affordable housing by Siri Chilukuri at Grist.

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