Online Program

Disaster Planning Toolkit for Homeless Veterans and their Community Providers

Monday, November 2, 2015

June Gin, PhD, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center, North Hills, CA
Alicia Gable, MPH, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center, North Hills, CA
Mangwi Atia, MA, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center, North Hills, CA
Aram Dobalian, PhD, MPH, JD, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC), Veterans Health Administration, North Hills, CA
People experiencing homelessness are at significant risk for adverse health outcomes during disasters due to the compounding effects of chronic disease, lack of shelter, and extreme poverty. Despite this risk, chronically homeless individuals, constituting 6.8 percent of the U.S. population, are often neglected in community emergency planning, creating an urgent need for improvements in disaster care and service delivery.  Consequently, homeless individuals are likely to present a significant surge in demand to emergency rooms and other health safety net services after a disaster.  Healthcare systems and public health providers need sufficient surge capacity to fulfill their role in caring for homeless populations during disasters.  The Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are collaborating to develop a Homeless Disaster Planning Toolkit to improve the integration of homeless populations and service providers in disaster preparedness, planning, and response.

The goal of this session is to provide public health emergency planners and service providers with practical guidance, solutions and tangible resources to help them improve efforts during disasters to assist individuals experiencing homelessness.  Presenters will focus on three areas: 1) Communication and coordination; 2) Technical assistance for community-based homeless service providers; and 3) Guidance for clinical health providers on homeless disaster care.  Partnering with community service providers is essential to achieving a Whole Community approach to resilience.  Results of informal interviews with experts from communities nationwide include best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations from prior efforts to improve disaster preparedness and response.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe key concerns and potential interventions to enhance emergency coordination between public health emergency managers and non-profit homeless service providers. Identify gaps and needs to address nonprofit homeless organizations’ capabilities for continuity of operations in times of disaster. List factors that influence nonprofit organizations’ preparedness decisions including challenges to prioritizing preparedness; funding considerations; and the need to maintain services to vulnerable populations during disaster. Indicate mechanisms for local public health agencies and healthcare providers to develop capacity-building collaborations with community-based organizations

Keyword(s): Homelessness, Emergency Preparedness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I lead a research study on disaster preparedness in Los Angeles County homeless shelters. In addition, I chair a national workgroup convened to develop a disaster preparedness and coordination toolkit for homeless service providers.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.