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Natural Disasters Impacts on Black People

WHEREAS, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") has Memorandums of Understanding with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and with the American Red Cross, regards equity in emergency management as a civil and human right, and seeks to advance the fair and equitable treatment of all communities in times of emergency; and

WHEREAS, African Americans and Latinos have a higher risk of disaster exposure than White Americans. Furthermore, African Americans and Latinos are more likely than White Americans to experience personal loss, property damage, delayed utility restoration, food insecurity, homelessness, and economic hardship after disasters; and

WHEREAS, While African Americans and Latinos are among those most impacted by disaster events in the United States, they are typically the last groups to receive immediate and long-term federal aid. Additionally, the NAACP has warned that members of these groups may be denied access to program services, aid, or benefits at a disproportionate rate, may receive treatment and benefits in a manner different from others, and may be segregated or treated separately from others during the receipt of any service, aid or benefit, all in ways that constitute discrimination; and

WHEREAS, Federal legislation makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of color, race, nationality, sex, region, age, disability, or economic status against victims who seek federal disaster assistance and relief. Yet, FEMA often fails to prioritize assisting victims of disasters in Black and other communities of color, rural communities, and low-income areas; and

WHEREAS, an analysis of FEMA grants awarded to 1,621 counties between 2012 and 2015 revealed that counties with a significant population of African American, Latino, or Native American residents, experiencing the same amount of damage as counties of primarily white American residents, received less funding from FEMA; and

WHEREAS, inequitable disaster response at the federal level has far-reaching implications. One such consequence is exacerbated wealth inequality. Studies indicate that in counties impacted by large disasters, African American survivors see their wealth decrease by $27,000 on average, while white American survivors see their wealth increase by $126,000 on average. This disparity contributes to a perpetual cycle in which communities of color remain dependent on federal aid and cannot prepare for future disasters or mitigate against harm themselves, while larger communities with considerable resources continue to be prioritized and unjustly enriched; and

WHEREAS, communities are often unaware of other federal funding opportunities during the disaster cycle from agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Association, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, despite FEMA's role in coordinating disaster resources and needs; and

WHEREAS, the Robert T. Stafford Act is the major statute that governs disaster relief, FEMA operations during the disaster cycle, and should be reviewed to ensure that communities most impacted benefit from this law; and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has further illustrated the racial disparities in disaster response and relief. Communities of color had more difficulty accessing government funds during the pandemic than white American communities. In Georgia, for example, 53% of unemployment benefit applications by African American employees were denied, while 42% of applications by white American employees were denied. Additionally, businesses in areas with the largest populations of white American residents received roughly twice as many Paycheck Protection Program ("PPP") loans per capita than businesses in areas with the lowest population of White Americans. Furthermore, it took longer for a business with paid employees in "Black ZIP codes" to receive a PPP loan than those without.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will designate individuals from NAACP membership including designees from the Youth and College Division to work directly with FEMA to regularly to provide feedback regarding ways the agency can improve as well as encourage its units to assist people of color with invoking their rights to appeal denials for relief if they suspect they have been discriminated against; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work with FEMA to distribute culturally relevant messaging, tools, training, and other educational and organizational resources available to support NAACP partners' participation in community-based disaster preparedness, response, recovery, mitigation and resilience efforts. These individuals should have backgrounds including but not limited to equity / dei, medicine, business, research, disaster relief, education/training and marketing if possible.

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the NAACP will demand FEMA better coordinate disaster recovery resources during the entire disaster cycle, including, ensuring other federal agencies are in regular contact with FEMA regarding grants, loans, and other funds that communities need to rebuild; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP will support federal legislative efforts for more stringent regulations and standards as well as clearer standards regarding protecting the rights of disaster victims from discriminatory treatment; and

THEREFORE, BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will demand FEMA to diversify its workforce to better reflect the racial diversity of the United States.

Together Power Vote Hero - NAACP

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