Home buyout programs are typically funded by the federal government and implemented by local agencies. How these agencies design and implement buyouts has considerable impacts on participating households and communities, making understanding the internal processes of implementing agencies a critical component of buyout research. This study addresses this issue by exploring the early design and implementation phases of a buyout program in Harris County, Texas, following Hurricane Harvey.
Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with buyout staff and government stakeholders. Data were analyzed in two phases using grounded theory methodology and holistic coding.
There was considerable tension regarding the role of buyouts in mitigation and recovery. Participants conceptualized buyouts as mitigation programs, but recognized that residents, in contrast, viewed buyouts as a tool for household recovery.
This study adds to questions raised in the literature about the efficacy of buyouts and other relocation efforts implemented in response to disasters and global climate change. Future research should work to build systematic knowledge regarding design, implementation, and impacts of buyouts on affected households and communities.
Tension in the purpose of buyouts may be the cause of consistent shortcomings in buyout implementation including attrition, checkerboarding, and transfer of risk. Funding, timing, and the scale of buyouts do not align with household recovery needs and priorities, limiting the mitigation potential of buyouts.
This study identifies a fundamental tension in the purpose of buyout programs that has yet to be discussed in the literature.
This study was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant number 1844351) and by the Natural Hazards Center Quick Response Grant Program, which is funded by National Science Foundation grant number CMMI1030670.
Binder, S.B., Greer, A. and Zavar, E. (2020), "Home buyouts: a tool for mitigation or recovery?", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-09-2019-0298Download as .RIS
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