Renters typically are more vulnerable to disasters than homeowners, for a number of reasons. Low income families comprise two-thirds of rental households, and rental housing stock is often older, so it is less likely to be up to code and more likely to be damaged by a natural hazard such as a tornado or earthquake.
In Escambia County, Florida, following Hurricane Ivan, renters comprised the majority of applicants to FEMA for emergency housing assistance. As a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, at least 82,000 rental properties were destroyed in Louisiana alone.
In spite of such figures, analysts note that “in the U.S., federal relief programs traditionally privilege middle-class homeowners over renters,” which suggests the potential for uneven funding in emergency management legislation. Further, renters are less likely than homeowners to identify as “feeling prepared” for a natural disaster.