When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas in August 2017, it dumped 27 trillion gallons of rain on the greater Houston region, sumberging about a quarter of the metropolitan area. To this day, it remains the wettest storm on record in the U.S. The hurricane, which research would later find was 15 percent more intense and three times as likely due to climate change, caused financial hardship for thousands of families.
Less than a fifth of homeowners in counties hit by Harvey had flood insurance. Mortgage delinquencies soared. The number of borrowers who missed more than three mortgage payments tripled in the wake of the storm. Property values took a hit, too: A study by Freddie Mac, one of two mortgage loan companies backed by the federal government, found that homes in Houston’s 100-year floodplain sold for about $17,000 less than comparable homes outside the floodplain after the storm. The financial distress was felt most acutely by low-income families and communities of color. Researchers found that homeowners in neighborhoods with a larger share of minority residents were less likely to qualify for loans and federal grants to rebuild after Harvey.
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