Despite spending the most money on flood damage, Florida only ranked 23rd of the 49 states using the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home buyout program, according to a 2019 study from University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.
Started in 1989, economic models showed that the program would help flood-prone property owners in less wealthy, more rural neighborhoods, says the Miami Herald. However, the 30-year University of Miami analysis showed the opposite.
While lower income neighborhoods in wealthy counties take advantage of the program, those who need it most in poorer counties are less likely to use it.
"These findings suggest that buyouts are resource-intensive to administer, which might make them less feasible in areas that need them the most," said study coauthor A.R. Siders, an assistant professor in the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware, in a press release.
Researchers hoped their findings would lead to a more efficient program.
"The buyout program represents billions of dollars in government spending, yet until now, we didn't have a broad understanding of who benefitted from those investments," said Miyuki Hino, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University and coauthor of the study, in the press release. "Now, we can see not only who has benefitted, but also what types of places and communities may be falling through the cracks."