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AbstractPersons with disabilities may face longer disaster recovery trajectories, despite federal mandates for equal access and reasonable accommodations in disaster recovery services. The longer recovery trajectories for persons with disabilities may be mitigated with better access to federal disaster assistance. This study evaluated whether disaster assistance applicants with special accommodations requests were more likely to experience denials in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance eligibility after Hurricane Harvey. The author relied on FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) registrant data. The analysis found that applicants requesting special accommodations were less likely to be denied eligibility than nonrequesting applicants, controlling for storm damage, income, and flood insurance [odds ratio (OR) 0.57; 95% CI=0.51–0.63]. However, communities with a higher prevalence of total disabilities had a slight but statistically lower probability of special accommodations requests as a proportion of total FEMA applications. At the zip code level, a 1% increase in US Census total disability was associated with a 0.11% decrease in the percent of special accommodation requests, holding factors such as levels of Harvey-related damage, poverty, population density, and race/ethnicity constant (beta=−0.11; p-value=0.04).



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