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FEMA changes policy that blocked disaster aid for many Black families

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced it will amend a department policy that disproportionately withheld disaster aid from rural Black communities.

Under the previous policy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) required applicants for aid to produce specific documents such as deeds to prove their ownership of affected properties. The new policy will expand the allowable documentation to include vehicle registrations, legal documents and signed statements from a benefit provider, social service organization or mobile home park owner.

The more restrictive requirements have long been a stumbling block, particularly for Black families in the rural South, who are less likely to have such records for inherited properties.

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