We can all remember Hurricane Katrina like it was yesterday. Whether you were in the flood or glued to your TV, it was an American tragedy. Unfortunately, we have witnessed more storms with similar devastation. These natural disaster communities are consistently rebuilt bigger and better through FEMA resources-not just funding. Why aren’t we using these resources to rebuild our cities and communities? FEMA would alleviate poverty by providing massive clean ups and rebuilding stores and homes while decreasing violence.
As FEMA is taxpayer based, we must advocate for their entrance into the inner city. In 2018 FEMA approved $17.5 million for homeowner collaboration disaster cleaning efforts. These efforts are coordinated so land and home owners clean their own property and FEMA contracts with city and county agencies for it’s removal. Cities and counties must create ordinances in a coordinated manner with FEMA to have massive clean ups of their abandoned neighborhoods such as Englewood, Chicago. The Englewood, Chicago neighborhood had 600 abandoned buildings and the highest poverty rate in Chicago. Comparatively, in 2015 Washington, Illinois was devastated by a tornado causing the destruction of a few hundred homes/businesses and damage to a total of 1,000. The only difference between these two devastated areas is the swift accountability to rebuild Washington while Englewood continues its descent. In Chicago the Department of Streets and Sanitation is virtually responsible for every pick up of debris throughout the city. As garbage crews and hylifts enter neighborhoods, the devastation is clear. These crews work diligently to clean fly dumps from construction companies, abandoned building debris, vacant lots and more. If FEMA collaborated monetarily, these crews could grow and clean even more bringing fresh faces to the East, South and West sides where poverty is the only thing abundant. The unnatural devastation in cities is decreasing populations. Detroit had been just a few people shy of a ghost town for decades and now Chicago is shrinking. The Austin neighborhood lost tens of thousands of residents as the poverty storm took a foothold. These areas are a disaster every day, we must have federal monetary intervention.
Business UP + Violence Down = Growth
Let’s talk about Washington,, Illinois one more time. After the tornado, they received US SBA low interest loans and business grants. The community is now booming with businesses and homes with very low violence. FEMA and the government consider low violence and/or deaths as a main component to their definition of devastation. A key comparison of the devastation are death rates. The Washington tornado killed 6 people whereas that amount of people die in Englewood or Austin, Chicago in a month, sometimes a weekend. FEMA’s grants, unemployment and SBA loans could turn poor communities into a strong community in less time than city grants and TIF funds are settled for regrowth. Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis have great business opportunities across their devastated areas. Chicago has created a Neighborhood Opportunity grant to help businesses start and bloom in FEMA devastation like areas. But why should cities have all the burden? The federal government should funnel money into creating business-especially small business as it’s the core of our national economy. As businesses grow, violence decreases. Violence costs taxpayers millions a year in increased emergency assistance. If these areas stay dirty, abandoned and violent, what business will grow? It’s not the chicken or the egg question. We need the chicken first that will hatch the eggs of small business prosperity. Our national government should provide the same SBA loans and unemployment assistance for the poor while their neighborhoods are reborn. These loans should be guaranteed that if violence and abandoned homes are not cleaned up and removed, then people are not liable for their business venture. A restaurant cannot withstand low density of residents and customers fears of violence to bloom. All of the FEMA efforts that are brought forth in natural disasters must be enforced for success.
Unlike, struggling cities that have more demands for city and community services, FEMA is not designated to just one location or one fund. They have a plethora of resources from utilizing the expertise and expansive work force of the National Armed Guard to billions of dollars from massive departments that monies can be collected for operations. Cities are consistently under more strain from changes in technology to complete and compete with cleaning up whereas FEMA has state of the art resources updated and created. Cities would be smart to create referendums insisting that the federal government funnel FEMA into their devastated areas-the statistics are there. The future of the America is competing with the changes and mistakes of our past. Stop the redlining and diaspora of our poor, minorities and life long city folks by helping them with cleaning more than one vacant lot at a time.