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Which Neighborhoods have the Greatest Need for

Addressing Property Damage from Hurricane Harvey?

featured in National Mortgage News (see the article here)

and on Data.World in Top 10 Datasets of 2017

Where was Hardest Hit?
How Distressed are Hardest Hit?
Where is the Greatest Need?
Show More


There are 39 counties included in the Hurricane Harvey Presidential Declared Disaster (PDD) Areas. While all of these counties were affected by the hurricane, the impact to property damage varied across neighborhoods within the counties. Some neighborhoods experienced a more significant destruction to properties than others. While most areas that suffered property damage will need assistance for repair and rehab costs, the areas with limited resources may experience a more devastating impact if not carefully targeted by the federal disaster recovery programs.


SP Group identified those neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to the negative impact of property damage due to their underlying economic conditions exhibiting high distress. These neighborhoods represent the greatest need for assistance from federal programs such as HUD’s Community Development Grant Assistance Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR).

Where was the Hardest Hit?


Significant Property Damage Concentrated to 2% of Neighborhoods

Based on Preliminary Damage Assessments published by FEMA, we considered significant damage to mean 270* or more damaged properties, where the majority of buildings were destroyed or show signs of major damage.


There are around 1400 neighborhoods (tracts) in the 12 counties surveyed by FEMA. Two percent or 26 tracts show signs of significant damage (red). The rest experienced no or minor damage (shown in grey).


This tells us that overall, Harvey's most significant damage was concentrated to relatively few neighborhoods.

*270 represents 75th percentile of total damage

How Distressed are the Hardest Hit?


Varying Distress in the 26 Hardest Hit Neighborhoods

SP Group has developed a Neighborhood Distress Index (NDI). Our index uses Census Tract data to assess neighborhood-level distress. The NDI is computed each year and includes the economic variables such as unemployment, poverty rate, median income, and educational attainment. Using our proprietary methodology, SP Group’s NDI allows Census Tracts to be compared with each other, as well as track changes over time.


We computed our NDI for the 1400 neighborhoods affected by Harvey and identified that the hardest hit areas exhibited varying levels of distress. Meaning that unlike Hurricane Katrina, Harvey did not hit the lowest income areas harder than the well-off areas. However, areas with greater distress will take a longer time to recover from the natural disaster.

Where is the Greatest Need?


Four Greatest Need Neighborhoods - Hardest Hit and Most Distressed

SP Group identified four neighborhoods that exhibited:

  1. Significant damage - Greater than 270 buildings affected where more than 50% were destroyed or had major damage AND

  2. High Distress - Higher unemployment and poverty, and lower income and educational attainment relative to other affected tracts.


SP Group believes that these neighborhoods represent the highest need for federal, state and local assistance for property repair and rehab costs. As federal programs such as SBA disaster loan, CDBG grants are being funded, it is imperative for agencies to address these areas of greatest need.

SP Group maintains a data library that enables the evaluation of neighborhoods impacted by any natural disaster, including for Hurricanes Irma and Maria. If you are interested in obtaining the results of our analysis for a disaster other than Hurricane Harvey, please contact us at info@spgroupusa.com.


Additionally, SP Group has developed a proprietary tool that allows the user to examine neighborhood details at the tract level including housing metrics, demographic data, socioeconomic data, and local housing non-profits. For information on our Neighborhood Profile Tool, please contact us at info@spgroupusa.com.





Data Sources

  1. FEMA, DR-4332 Preliminary Damage Assessments as of September 2017

  2. CAPE ©2017 Experian Marketing Solutions, Inc. All rights reserve