NLIHC Analyzes FEMA Individual Assistance Registrations for Puerto Rico

NLIHC has analyzed FEMA’s Individuals and Household Program (IHP) data on Individual Assistance registrations for Puerto Rico. The analysis covers both Hurricanes Irma and Maria and includes an interactive visualization. Unlike NLIHC’s previous analyses of Hurricane Harvey registrants in Texas and Hurricane Irma registrants in Florida, which showed a disproportionate share of renters over homeowners requesting assistance, the data from Puerto Rico show homeowners and renters are requesting assistance proportionate to their populations. Registrants in Puerto Rico, however, are significantly more likely to have low incomes than registrants in Texas and Florida.

FEMA’s IHP data do not include registrant incomes, but estimates of the income distribution of registrants can be made by assuming their incomes reflect the income distribution of their ZIP codes. Fifty-two percent of owner registrants and 77% of renter registrants in Puerto Rico have annual incomes less than $25,000. By comparison, 16% of owner registrants and 37% of renter registrants in Texas have incomes less than $25,000, and 20% of owner registrants and 40% of renter registrants in Florida earn less than $25,000. Furthermore, 21% of owner registrants and 46% of renter registrants in Puerto Rico have annual incomes of less than $10,000. In short, a substantial number of Puerto Rican registrants, particularly renters, live in deep poverty.