Working poor hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey

Employment, housing affects many on coast

As the waters rescind and the sun shines again, we’re left to reflect on the true devastation of Hurricane Harvey along coastal Texas. The consequences of the massive storm are huge, real and will take years to correct. But of all the people affected, no one seems to be hit harder than the working poor.

These are people who work hard just to make ends meet and more often than not find themselves working paycheck to paycheck. Many have no financial cushion, no savings and limited funds available for necessities.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, Hurricane Harvey is estimated to have destroyed or caused major damage to more than 13,700 single, mobile and multi-family homes in Harris County. Additionally throughout Southeast Texas, federal officials say Harvey affected more than 100,000 homes, and more than 436,000 households have registered for aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Others may not even have a job to come back to. With some businesses closed until damages are fixed, paychecks for hourly workers are on hold, too. In the week following Harvey’s landfall, the number of people filing for U.S. unemployment claims jumped more than it had in five years (more than 51,000 new applications in Texas).

34-year old Mark Levi Betancourt evacuated his trailer home with his family, and the home was severely damaged by the hurricane — so much so that he’s now seeking to raise funds to replace it. Prior to Harvey’s landfall, Mark worked fulltime at Woody’s Sports Center, which charters boat trips, in Port Aransas, Texas. But now he’s without a job, since the docks suffered so much damage and won’t reopen for at least two months.

Already living paycheck to paycheck, Mark said “I’ve been living on the bottom forever, it’s not like I had far to fall.”

Still others may have a job, but don’t have a way to get there as Harvey wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands of vehicles in the region. Experts say that employers will usually only give people about two weeks to stabilize their lives after disaster before letting them go from their jobs if they cannot get there reliably. There isn’t much time for people to find alternative transportation.

For those who already struggled before the storm, things have gotten worse. The aftermath of Harvey is a working poor who’ve been knocked down yet again, and we want to do our part to help them get back on their feet again.

On the Road Lending created a special loan program for people impacted by these storms that will allow them to gain access to reliable transportation at a manageable cost while they rebuild their lives. Click here to donate to the program.

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