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.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides guidelines for the management of open space created through property acquisition (buyouts); however, land use decisions…
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides guidelines for the management of open space created through property acquisition (buyouts); however, land use decisions are primarily left to local governments manifesting in a variety of uses. The purpose of this paper is to provide a land use assessment of buyout sites, to describe the changes in those uses that have occurred during a ten-year period from 1990 to 2000, and to offer an assessment of management approaches employed across these sites.
Using a mixed-methods approach consisting of a land use classification survey and a semi-structured questionnaire of floodplain managers, this study explores the land use trends at buyout sites, diverse approaches local governments take in managing the open spaces created through floodplain buyout programs, and the successes and challenges communities face in open space management.
Results indicate strong support from floodplain managers for property acquisition and several cases emerged where communities put their newly acquired public land to creative uses. However, the opportunity to leverage these properties for greater public values is largely being missed, primarily because of limited funding.
The analysis indicates strong support among floodplain managers for the buyout approach; however, additional resource-sharing and funding opportunities are needed to increase the utility of buyout properties.
By evaluating the long-term management strategies floodplain managers utilize on buyout sites, this study adds to an underrepresented area of scholarship and is of value to practitioners, government officials, and academics.