Harvard Report Shows Post-Disaster Home Repair Spending Has Nearly Doubled since the 2000s

A report published by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies shows that approximately $20 billion is being spent annually to repair homes following major disasters and minor storms – a $3 billion increase from 2021 and nearly double the $12 billion spent on average annually between 2000 and 2010. The increase in spending is due to the rising number and worsening severity of climate-related incidents, like hurricanes and floods, and the growing number of homes in areas vulnerable to disasters. The report projects that costs related to housing repairs following disasters will continue to rise significantly into the future.

While annual average inflation-adjusted costs for damages from disasters ballooned to $145 billion between 2020 and 2022, such damages are not being caused by hurricanes and tornados alone: severe snow, hail, and windstorms accounted for 44% of disaster-related restoration spending in 2021. 

The report also suggests that disasters have long-lasting impacts on the home repair and restoration market. Local contractors and companies are just as likely to be impacted by disasters as their clients, affecting their ability to meet repair and restoration demands. As a result, repair and restoration often progress slowly following disasters. For instance, disaster-related home repairs in Houston accounted for 13% of the improvement market in 2021, four years after Hurricane Harvey impacted the city in 2017.

The report indicates that there are significant ramifications for low-income homeowners, whose lack of financial resources make post-disaster home repair even more daunting. While mitigation efforts can help prevent many costs, they can be inaccessible for low-income homeowners. “The high cost of and limited public assistance for mitigation retrofits, combined with a lack of information about their benefits, prevent many households from pursuing them,” explains the report. “Expanding assistance for lower -income households, who are more financially vulnerable to hazards but less able to afford home retrofits, is critical to maintain the housing stock and prevent household displacement.”

Read the report at: https://bit.ly/40PHduy