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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

This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,625,741 with 20 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

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