Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Needs Assessment: Phase II

Report by Jie Wu, Mingming Zhang, John Park, Carlos Villegas, Grant Patterson, Kyle Shelton
January 2018

Kinder Institute for Urban Research   (Houston)

This report represents the second phase of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s needs assessment work on behalf of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

This document includes an updated analysis of zip code level 211 data from October 11 to November 30, 2017, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Individual Assistance (IA) data as of December 5, 2017, and FEMA Individual and Households Program (IHP) data as of December 20, 2017, all for Harris County. This report includes a summary of the data provided by the American Red Cross’ Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN) as of January 5, 2018 (this information was not in the Phase One report). In addition, this report includes a damage assessment for Harris County presented at the census block group level. This assessment combines data from the City of Houston, Harris County, and multiple non-profit groups.

Summaries of several of the largest needs assessments undertaken since Hurricane Harvey are also included here. The assessments looked at include the Episcopal Health Foundation and Kaiser Family Foundation’s post-Harvey survey, the results of two Harris County Public Health door-to-door surveys, a report on the hurricane-related damage to the Greater Houston region’s art and cultural sector conducted by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, a report on legal services needs provided by Equal Justice Works, and, finally, a report on damages to schools and childcare centers drawn from the Mayor’s Office of Education and the Collaborative for Children.

Throughout this document, those described as “affected by Harvey” mean any person whose residence received direct structural damage. The sole exception to this is in the case of the Episcopal Health Foundation’s survey work, where those considered affected may also include those who lost a car or job due to Harvey.

A number of data limitations should be discussed before beginning this report. A major hurdle throughout this needs assessment process was the Kinder Institute’s inability to access all needed data at an individual level. Neither the Kinder Institute, nor any other non-governmental entity, could arrange access to the individualized FEMA IA data due to confidential data restrictions at the federal level. The Kinder Institute was also not able to access the individualized data compiled by the City of Houston. These two limitations meant that duplicate records could not be reconciled between various datasets inside and outside city limits. We also were unable to verify the City’s analysis. In addition to data access limitations, many of the datasets are incomplete or have large gaps. FEMA data, for example, does not account for those who are not submitting claims. 211 data only registers those who called. Both are likely underreporting damages and affected households. Likewise, the CAN data is dependent upon the entry of cases by social service providers who use this case management system. Given that there are only 7,000 cases listed in CAN, there is a clear underrepresentation of affected households. Addressing such data limitations is key to ensuring that post-disaster assessment and social service work done in the future can be more efficient.