Thursday, February 2, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

FEMA Discriminates Against Poor People|And Won’t Say Why, Storm Victims Say

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (CN) - FEMA discriminated against poor people in the Rio Grande Valley by rejecting half the applications for home repair assistance after Hurricane Dolly, 15 people and an organization claim in Federal Court. They want FEMA ordered to disclose the standards it uses to adjudicate disaster relief applications.

Lead plaintiff La Union del Pueblo Entero says FEMA has refused to publish or even discuss the standards it used to reject the applications from people in one of the poorest areas of the nation.

Dolly whacked the Texas coast on July 23.

Plaintiffs say they each should be eligible for up to $28,000 in disaster aid. Most or all of the plaintiffs asked for far less than that. FEMA gave most of them zero, saying their homes had suffered "insufficient damage."

Of the few plaintiffs who got anything at all, FEMA sent one woman a check for $100.59, though a contractor said her home needed $15,620 in repairs.

La Union was founded by Cesar Chavez. Its lead counsel is Jerome Wesevich with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid of El Paso.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.