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Emergency Preparedness

People experiencing homelessness are especially vulnerable during natural disasters, and are often subject to discrimination during recovery. Too often resources are prioritized for people who were displaced from their homes by natural disasters, even though nothing fundamentally differentiates those that were made homeless by extreme weather and those who otherwise lack stable housing. Review the resources below to prepare your clients and programs to respond to disasters effectively.

NHCHC Resources

  • Winter is Coming: Cold Weather & Disasters, 2020. The second installment in our webinar series on six winter crises, this facilitated discussion addresses how to prepare, plan, and respond to extreme cold weather and the corresponding health issues for those living outdoors, as well as natural disasters such as hurricanes and fires. Presenters share examples of how they are leveraging federal and local funds and working with community partners, and discuss the challenges and strategies to overcome barriers posed by decompressed shelters.
  • Preparing and Responding to Natural Disasters: Health Care for the Homeless Perspectives, 2018. With recent natural disasters striking major metropolitan areas, the need for preparedness and response discussions has drastically increased. Preparing our health centers, our staff, and our consumers is vital for safety and recovery. Join us as we explore disaster preparedness and response for health centers treating people experiencing homelessness from multiple angles. We will share disaster preparedness plans from an administrative and operations perspective, challenges and success in planning and response, lessons learned following Hurricane Harvey, hear stories of involuntary evacuation for Hurricane Irma, and learn useful strategies to proactively engage and prepare consumers for natural disasters. View slides and video.
  • Integrating Homeless Service Providers and Clients in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, 2014, This issue brief outlines strategies in place in two Florida counties to meet the disaster needs of people experiencing homelessness. Findings from focus groups were used to assess homeless individual and service provider knowledge base and perception of these strategies. Recommendations are offered for other communities working towards more inclusive planning.
  • Surviving Severe Weather: Tools to Promote Emergency Preparedness for People Experiencing Homelessness, 2013, This series of weather-specific informational flyers was developed specifically for people experiencing homelessness using input from people who are formerly and currently homeless. Information for planning a severe weather dialogue and learning session is included.
  • Disaster Planning For People Experiencing Homelessness, March 2009, Federal reports and lessons learned from a number of communities tell us that we are not prepared to meet the disaster-related needs of people who are homeless. This publication provides an overview of important issues to consider when planning for the needs of homeless people during disasters. Practical guidance for each issue area is offered for local officials, emergency planners, homeless service providers and others who are involved in the disaster planning process. The final part of the document offers guidance to help Health Care for the Homeless providers and others involved in homeless service provision facilitate conversations with emergency planners in their communities.
  • Disaster Planning Requires Time, Resources, Collaboration | Healing Hands, 2004
  • No One Left Behind: Disaster Planning for People Experiencing Homelessness, 2010, Workshop materials from the 2010 National Health Care for the Homeless Conference and Policy Symposium
  • Pandemic Influenza Guidance for Homeless Shelters & Homeless Service Providers, 2009.

Additional Resources

NHCHC Media Experts: COVID-19

To request an interview with a National Health Care for the Homeless Council staff or community member, contact Terri Woodmore, Communications Manager.

Council Staff

Hugo Aguas, MA

Research Associate

Hugo works with the research team to research health outcomes using data driven methodologies, Hugo collaborates with other community health partners throughout the country to develop educational materials pertaining to medical care for those experiencing homelessness. Hugo also disseminates data and provides ease-of-access to community partners throughout the nation, and assists in writing publications and scheduling educational seminars on public health amongst those experiencing homelessness.



Barbara DiPietro, PhD

Senior Director of Policy

Barbara directs the policy and advocacy activities for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. This includes conducting policy analysis, providing educational materials and presentations to a broad range of policymakers and other stakeholders, coordinating the Council’s policy priorities with national partners, and organizing staff assistance to the Policy Committee and the National Consumer Advisory Board.



Tineciaa Harris MSPH, MS

Clinical and Quality Improvement Manager

Tineciaa works to improve the clinical environment in health centers broadly through education, training, technical assistance, and policy with a focus on quality improvement. Tineciaa operates on the national level in frequent partnership with both federal and non-profit organizations and leads initiatives that seek to improve health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.



Katie League, LCSW-C

COVID-19 Project Manager (Policy Team)

Katie works with the policy team to support the Council’s efforts surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. She works to identify and promote promising practices, common challenges, and key policy issues faced by the HCH community.




Courtney Pladsen, DNP, FNP-BC, RN

Director of Clinical and Quality Improvement

Courtney Pladsen leads initiatives to improve the delivery of primary care, substance use treatment, and mental health care nationally. She directs training and quality improvement initiatives, and contributes to research and policy recommendations on emerging clinical issues affecting people experiencing homelessness.

Bobby Watts

Bobby Watts, MPH, MS

Chief Executive Officer

Bobby Watts has 30 years of experience in administration, direct service, and implementation of homeless health services, beginning as a live-in counselor at the New York City Rescue Mission. He spent most of his career prior to joining the Council at Care for the Homeless, which operates clinics and shelters and conducts policy analysis and advocacy in New York City.

HCH Community Experts


Kristie Hartig, MSN, RN, PHN, CWOCN
Topeka, KS

Erin Ryan, MSW, MPH
Senior Vice President, The Night Ministry
Chicago, IL

Return to main Experts Guide page


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