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Receding Waters Shows Divide Between Recovering Families

One of our chief goals, when Arnold & Itkin takes on a Hurricane Harvey case, is to put pressure on insurers to resolve claims quickly. Because insurers don’t want to face us in court, they’re forced to make our clients’ cases a priority. Quick resolution is an important factor in a person’s financial health—the longer a person has to wait for insurance relief, the longer they’re vulnerable to serious financial setbacks.

Experts note that one of the hardest challenges of a natural disaster is figuring out how to house the dozens of households who are left without a home while waiting for their insurance check to arrive. This is primarily an issue for low-income households, who were already in a delicate financial situation prior to Hurricane Harvey. NBC News recently published a report on how Hurricane Harvey will deepen the economic divides Houston was already known for.

Worst in the Nation for Income-Based Segregation

The greater Houston area already had the auspicious “honor” of having the highest housing segregation by income in the nation. Harvey made it far worse for families making less than $50,000 a year—a demographic that made up nearly half of all flooded homes. Harvey put low-income families at the mercy of landlords and FEMA while hoping that their insurance claim works out. While higher-income homes were able to start rebuilding immediately, people like 55-year-old Vickie Carson are still looking for contractors willing to get paid room-by-room.

Carson has flood insurance, but she doesn’t know how far along her claim is. Her 10-person family has been living in a hotel near George Bush Intercontinental Airport since Harvey landed, courtesy of FEMA, but FEMA’s coverage ends on November 7. The Carson family is unsure about where they’ll go once coverage ends. Households like Carson’s are choosing to live in their damaged homes, which may remain in disrepair for years.

Coastal cities in New York and New Jersey provide an illustrative lesson in how income inequality is affected by hurricanes. Years after Hurricane Sandy, many low-income households still haven’t moved back into their homes or received insurance money. Meanwhile, high-income coastal cities have not only recovered—they’ve built more homes to sell to wealthy new residents.

Bad for All of Houston

It’s easy to have sympathy for Vickie Carson and families like her, but we need more than sympathy—we need solutions. The fact is that when low-income families don’t get what they need to survive, all of Houston suffers. Homes remain in disrepair for years, causing neighborhoods to suffer from neglect as a whole. Workers can’t work because they’re displaced, and businesses struggle to reopen. These communities are forced to limp along while wealthier neighborhoods thrive.

Situations like this make Houston even more susceptible to a disaster in the future. New Orleans still suffers from the economic burden of homes abandoned after Hurricane Katrina in 2004. For Houston to avoid the same fate, the community needs to step up for those of us facing financial uncertainty.

Getting Justice for Low-Income Families

When our firm talks about how insurance companies are slowing down Texas’ recovery, this is part of the problem. Half of the households in the greater Houston area don’t have enough savings to stay out of poverty for 3 months. Many families are living check-to-check—they don’t have the resources to wait six months for an insurance company to honor a claim. They certainly don’t have the resources to withstand pressure from an insurance company to give up a claim or accept a low offer.

Arnold & Itkin is committed to making sure South Texas has the chance to recover fully and with minimal delay. If your claim is being held up by your insurance company, speak to us in a free consultation. You pay nothing unless we win—we’ve filed thousands of claims and won billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements. Find out how we can help you start rebuilding your life.

Call (888) 400-2101 to schedule your free claim consultation. We look forward to getting you answers.