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Red Cross ZIP Code policy claims: Stats don't add up

Posted at 7:40 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 23:17:07-05

The Red Cross rescinded its controversial ZIP code policy but what the reason for selecting those ZIP codes is still in question. 

The Red Cross says it decided on the 10 ZIP codes because of a high call volume. However, the Milwaukee Fire Department gave TODAY'S TMJ4 a list of how many times the Red Cross was called for each ZIP code in 2017. 

Only eight of the 10 ZIP codes the Red Cross chose were in the highest response list from last year. The second highest response zone on that list was 53212. This ZIP code was not included in the Red Cross's  policy, meaning they would still go on-site for fires there. 

The other two ZIP codes included on the Red Cross list were 53205 (six calls) and 53233 (two calls). Those two ranked 14th and 20th.

The 10 ZIP codes more closely align with the average household income. According to the last census in 2010, nine of the ZIP codes fall among the bottom ten in household income. All ten ZIP codes are among the bottom eleven. 

"The fact that the stats don't connect with what was said, it says somebody is telling a story somewhere," said Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee. "Maybe it was based on who has the most financial need and we don't want to have to go to those places so we don't have to use as much of our resources. I'm not sure. They are the communities in the county and frankly, in the state, that have the highest communities of color and probably has more poverty." 

The ZIP codes where the Red Cross would visit onsite had an average household income between $50,000 and $89,000. Taylor says, while fires can be devastating to any family, the resources the Red Cross provide could mean more to those families in the ZIP codes with a lower average household income. 

"The household near $90,000 may have credit cards, the ability to go somewhere or have a car," Taylor said. "The household that's near $30,000 may not have a car or a credit card to go somewhere and put themselves up. They may not have the ability to buy any of the things they need in order just to be able to go forward. A household with more income has more options."

Taylor is happy the Red Cross rescinded the policy but wants to know why. 

"I am glad," Taylor said. "But I think we have to get to the root of how did you get there? What was the standard? Why did you choose that? Very candidly, that shows bias. It shows there is some bias and not a fair process on how they made a selection."

When asked for a response to the new facts TODAY'S TMJ4 discovered, the Red Cross says they stand by their statement from Wednesday and have nothing new to add.