Principal Investigator
Emily Gallagher

Collaboration + support
Leeds School of Business, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, water indiscriminately flooded the homes of Houston residents, but financial help did not pour in as equally. 

Leeds School of Business researchers found that lower-income homeowners were most likely to end up in a worse financial position and at a higher risk of bankruptcy after the storm, due to unequal access to federal disaster assistance and loans. 

Wealthier homeowners were more likely to have flood insurance and be able to navigate the complex requirements to file for disaster funds and loans. Residents in lower-income neighborhoods also commonly received less disaster assistance, even if they qualified for it.  

“In allocating a limited pool of resources, the way we're handing it out seems to be distorted,” said assistant professor of finance Emily Gallagher.

Houston flooding aerial People and rescuers on flooded street in Houston Flooded Houston house Rescuer lowered from helicopter over Houston flooding U.S. Marine Corps escorting the community on rafts U.S. Marine Corps and Houston resident in Houston flooding Rescuing residents from Houston flooding

Image credits: A Marine, a member of the Texas Highway Patrol and Texas State Guard escort a couple to higher ground, Houston, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017 / U.S. Department of Agriculture. Aerial photo of Houston flooding / USACE HQ. Flooded Houston street / Marines. A house in Houston shows visible damage after flooding / Getty Images. Members of the South Carolina's Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Team (SC-HART) perform rescue operations in Port Arthur, Texas, August 31, 2017 / SC National Guard.