New Data Reveals Disaster Preparedness Disparities between Renters and Homeowners

HUD, the Census Bureau, and FEMA released on September 6, new American Housing Survey (AHS) data that reveals disaster preparedness disparities between renters and homeowners. According to a media release from HUD, the new survey data show that “renters are three times more likely [than homeowners] to need financial assistance to evacuate during a major disaster.” Approximately 39% of AHS renter respondents indicated that they would not be able to cover the cost of evacuation expenses in a disaster – an estimated cost of $2,000. In contrast, 88% of homeowner households would have access to $2,000 in an emergency.

The AHS is a biennial survey of 121.2 million occupied housing units, providing information on the nation’s housing stock. The survey captures information on a range of issues related to housing including, “inventory, vacancies, fuel usage, physical condition of housing units, characteristics of occupants, equipment breakdowns, home improvements, mortgages and other housing costs, people eligible for and beneficiaries of subsidized housing, home values, and characteristics of recent movers,” according to the Census Bureau.

In 2013, the AHS began collecting data on emergency and disaster preparedness. With the release of 2017 survey data, for the first-time policy analysts and researchers can track changes in disaster preparedness over time and identify relationships between disaster preparedness and housing status. In addition to data on disaster preparedness, the 2017 AHS survey data also include information on housing quality, housing costs, owner home improvements, and neighborhood characteristics.

Summary tables and data files with 2017 data are available for download.

HUD’s media release is at: