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Integrating Homeless Service Providers and Clients in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
Issue Brief

Resource Topic: Special and Vulnerable Populations, Emergency Management
Resource Subtopic: Emergency Preparedness

Year Developed: 2014

Resource Type: Publication

Primary Audience: Administrative Staff Board of Directors C-Suite (CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, COOs, CMOs, etc)
Secondary Audience: Clinicians Enabling Staff Outreach Staff PCAs

Language: English

Developed by: National Health Care for the Homeless Council (See other resources developed by this organization.)

Resource Summary: This issue brief outlines strategies to integrate people experiencing homelessness into disaster preparedness and response, examines homeless individuals’ and service providers’ awareness and perception of targeted preparedness efforts, and offers recommendations for other communities looking to improve disaster assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

Resource Details: People who are experiencing homelessness are at increased vulnerability to disasters. Factors that increase disaster vulnerability for this population include limited options for shelter, limited access to media, social isolation, lack of income, lack of transportation, poor literacy skills, and disproportionate rates of disability, illness, and addiction. These factors are often co-occurring leading to greater rates of injury and death and for survivors they create barriers to recovery after a disaster. Academic literature available on the topic suggests that communities are ill-prepared to meet the disaster-related needs of people who are experiencing homelessness. Case studies report poor coordination among homeless service providers, limited to no communication and support coming from emergency management officials, and lack of accountability from all sectors. Recommendations from existing literature include the development of interagency plans, formal communication structures, and improved outreach to communicate emergency information to people who are disconnected from the social service system. However, minimal guidance is available that describes what these structures and outreach plans look like. This issue brief outlines strategies, examines homeless individuals’ and service providers’ awareness and perception of targeted preparedness efforts, and offers recommendations for other communities looking to improve disaster assistance for people experiencing homelessness.

This project 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 $6,375,000 with 0 percentage 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.