Over the last few years, the Society has worked on Systemic Change Programs that examined the root causes of poverty, and developed programs to eliminate the roadblocks that keep families trapped in poverty. Although Disaster Case Managers assist families in finding resources to rebuild their homes and restart life in their “new normal”, not as much emphasis has been put on economic recovery, especially in poverty-stricken rural areas. The key question here is: It’s great for families to have new homes to go back to, but how do they sustain themselves and their homes in an area with no jobs?
DSC first piloted the commissioning of a post-disaster economic recovery plan after the West, TX, fertilizer plant explosion disaster in 2013. DSC was able to get grant funding to bring in a team of architects and city planners to help the small town of West determine how to attract new businesses to improve its tax base, add jobs, and give the survivors long-term financial stability. A total of 45 new jobs were developed through this first initiative and now the town has a master plan to attract other companies. Using the West, TX, model, DSC held economic recovery summits in both West Virginia and Nebraska to assist rural communities devastated by floods. Economic Recovery Programs help to create systemic change for those we serve.