National Disaster Housing Efforts
To focus national attention on disaster housing to improve sheltering, interim housing, and permanent housing efforts, FEMA will established a National Disaster Housing Task Force (NDHTF), comprised of Federal agency partners. The NDHTF is tasked with implementing the National Disaster Housing Strategy, which provides a framework for addressing the housing needs of disaster survivors from sheltering, through interim housing, to permanent housing.
The Task Force would also engage the following governmental entities:
- Federal Government, including FEMA, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration, United States Department of Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, National Council on Disability, and Access Board.
- State and tribal governments, including a range of States and tribes with varying capabilities and resources.
- Local governments, including large metropolitan areas and rural jurisdictions.
The following sections describe the short-term and longer-term tasks the Task Force should undertake to implement the Strategy.
- Develop an Implementation Plan - COMPLETED
The Task Force must develop a national Implementation Plan to achieve the goals within the Strategy and address the challenges in sheltering, interim housing, and permanent housing. While the Strategy lays the groundwork, achieving its vision and strategic goals will require the collective experience of experts from across the Nation. The Implementation Plan should be developed collaboratively within 6 months of publication of the Strategy and reflect the expertise, ideas, and guidance of disaster housing stakeholders.
The Implementation Plan should use the Strategy's vision and strategic goals as a starting point, translating them into measurable objectives, actions, and milestones. The plan must prioritize those actions and establish a realistic timeline. The Task Force should also identify which organizations are best positioned to lead each action, as well as which organizations will play key supporting roles. Developing this plan will require not only cooperation and compromise, but also a continued critical look at whether the course charted by the Task Force will achieve the broader national goals.
The Strategy was written in broad terms to provide the Task Force the opportunity to explore a range of ideas, encourage creativity, and foster innovation. Yet the Strategy points purposefully to future directions for sheltering, interim housing, and permanent housing that should be further defined in the Implementation Plan. The Task Force must accomplish their task by asking hard questions and continuing to assess key principles, review current practices, and prioritize the future directions within each area.
Every year the Task Force should produce a report that evaluates the Nation’s progress in implementing the Strategy, proposing course adjustments as needed. Every 4 years, the Task Force should review and revise the Strategy as necessary.
The effectiveness of disaster housing efforts will be determined by the people who fulfill key roles and how they carry out their responsibilities, including their commitment to develop plans and partnerships, conduct joint training and exercises, and achieve shared goals. Ultimately, our success will be evaluated by individuals and families who are forced from their homes by future disasters.
- Develop a Disaster Housing Concept of Operations
The Task Force must develop a comprehensive concept of operations (CONOPS) and Practitioners' Guide which describe how disaster housing is provided during response and recovery operations. The purpose of the CONOPS and Practitioners' Guide is to create a definitive description of how the emergency management community provides disaster housing, and to do so in a manner that draws concurrence from all stakeholders.
The CONOPS will:
- Provide a definitive description of how the range of Federal agencies involved in disaster housing coordinate recovery efforts.
- Define the roles, programs, and authorities of Federal agencies, detailing shared responsibilities and emphasizing the cooperative efforts required to provide disaster housing assistance.
- Explain the Federal Government's housing support role in operational terms for the normal range of disasters, along with the responsibility to maintain readiness to assume a greater role in housing disaster survivors in response to catastrophic events.
- Create a Practitioner’s Guide to Disaster Housing
- The Practitioner’s Guide to Disaster Housing (Practitioner’s Guide) is the companion document to the CONOPS. It will provide guidance for State, Tribal, territory and local disaster housing assistance practitioners to develop disaster housing strategies that improve disaster responsiveness and consider the unique needs of all people displaced by disasters.
- The Practitioner’s Guide established the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders during both Federally declared disasters and non-declared disasters, emphasizes the cooperative efforts required to provide disaster housing assistance, and encourages the involvement of private sector and non-governmental agencies.
- The Practitioner’s Guide includes extensive guidance on establishing State-Led Disaster Housing Task Forces, which establish an ongoing partnership and coordination structure for stakeholders to support and build disaster housing preparedness. This guidance includes information on potential membership and preparedness activities, as well as tools, checklists, and templates.
- The Practitioner’s Guide to Disaster Housing will be released for public comment within one month of the CONOPS.
- National Disaster Recovery Program Database - COMPLETED
- As part of FEMA's commitment to the emergency management community, the NDHTF, in conjunction with program coordinators from the National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF), developed the National Disaster Recovery Program Database (NDRPD) to provide easy access to information on disaster programs.
- The database will improve the visibility of disaster programs that can help communities, and through multi-select menus, enable communities to focus on disaster programs best suited to their needs.
- The NDRPD provides descriptions of several hundred programs, including the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) program numbers (for federal programs), points of contact, and web addresses.
- The NDRPD is a central location for State, Local, Tribal and Territorial (SLTT) government officials and emergency managers to view and research response, recovery, and mitigation programs sponsored by different levels of government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations.
- While the web tool is accessible by the public, information provided is not for individual applicants who are seeking disaster assistance. Rather, the information is intended as a resource for SLTT emergency managers, decision-making officials, and organizations that plan for and provide assistance.
- FEMA will continue to urge individuals and families to visit www.disasterassistance.gov to find information about disaster relief programs and apply for individual assistance related to disaster recovery.
- The database can be accessed through the National Disaster Housing Task Force website.
- Build capabilities across all levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector.
All levels of government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector must be prepared to support housing operations whenever disasters strike. Preparedness includes developing sufficient capabilities, including the functions or services required to successfully execute a given mission. Based on their disaster housing responsibilities and roles, all organizations should define and build capabilities to support the Strategy and execute the National Disaster Housing CONOPS and Practitioners' Guide. Developing these capabilities should be based on the principles in the National Incident Management System and build on best practices, when possible. To develop capabilities for this type of operation, organizations typically work together to:
- Develop operational plans and specify requirements, which may include tasks such as selecting and purchasing the appropriate tools and equipment, developing mission-specific training programs, and supporting long-term professional development.
- Define what capabilities will be needed by which organizations to support disaster housing response and recovery operations.
- Identify existing resources to support these capabilities, including people with appropriate skills and core competencies, equipment, systems and technologies, or commodities.
- Conduct exercises and assess operations to identify lessons learned and best practices that can be used to revise and continually improve plans.
Improving national capabilities and preparedness for disaster housing requires cooperation among all disaster housing stakeholders, including all levels of government, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations. Joint planning sessions can shorten the process of defining requirements, identifying what capabilities are needed by which organizations, and developing complementary operational plans and joint exercises. When gaps in capabilities are identified, responsible officials must take on the task of building or enhancing those capabilities.
Disaster housing involves capabilities that are both demanding and unique. For example, the capacity to plan, install, and manage interim housing community sites involves skills and resources for construction engineering and public works, government services, social work, environmental considerations and project management, and diplomacy. Assisting with permanent housing for displaced disaster victims requires an entirely different set of resources. Building such capabilities in various levels of government and agencies where they do not currently exist will require time, support, and compelling motivation.
The Task Force must determine what tools will be required to foster the development of these capabilities. Planning, training, and exercise support will be essential, but it will not be enough. The Task Force must work with the FEMA National Preparedness Directorate to incorporate disaster housing capability building into national preparedness efforts that will engage stakeholders at all levels. The capability-building efforts must be planned and resourced to be sustainable over long periods of time because of the size and scope of the problem. Finally, capability-building efforts must include eligibility for existing grant programs and other State or Federal financial incentives to encourage State, local, and tribal governments to see disaster housing capability building as a high-priority activity.
Because of the interagency and interdisciplinary nature of the disaster housing process, preparedness efforts will be designed to include nongovernmental organization and private-sector roles. Officials at all levels will be encouraged to include these partners in disaster housing planning, training, and exercises.
- Expand national resources to support preparedness.
It is impossible to conduct effective programs without adequate resources to support preparedness. Resource development should be driven by clear requirements based on the responsibilities, competences, and capabilities needed to support disaster housing response and recovery operations. The Task Force should identify those requirements and develop national resources to support planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and continually improving national disaster housing efforts.
Key areas where national resources may be required are described below:
- Online Disaster Housing Resource Center. To support disaster housing preparedness, the Task Force should develop an online disaster housing resource center. This web portal will centralize existing resources, materials, and tools for emergency management and disaster housing practitioners. The resource center will grow and evolve in support of the Strategy and those who are called upon to implement it. This effort should include a national assessment to identify tools and resources for the resource center as well as unmet State and local needs.
- National Disaster Recovery Program Database (NDRPD). This online tool collects data on different programs to help communities prepare for and rebuild after a disaster. The NDRPD will work as a central location for State/Local/Tribal governments and emergency managers to view recovery programs from governments, for-profit, non-profit, and charitable organizations. This website will provide easy access to information on programs, will improve the visibility of programs that can help communities, and, through drop down menus, enable communities to focus on those programs can best suit their needs. Once the user clicks on the link attached to the program, they will be able to view a detailed description and instructions on how to access the programs’ websites’ for application details. Although the program information on this site is available for anyone to view, it designed for State/Local/Tribal governments and emergency managers and the database’s programs are not intended for individual applicants. We urge individuals and families to visit www.disasterassistance.gov to find and apply for individual assistance related to disaster recovery.
- Planning Support. Additional guidelines, templates, and models should be developed, in consultation with states and other stakeholders, to support disaster housing planning that helps build national capabilities for the full range of disasters that may occur. These tools must be adaptable for local, State, and Federal planning and include forums for joint planning to identify potential gaps. In addition, specific disaster housing planning requirements must be developed to drive capabilities. These requirements should address the full range of individual and community needs, including special needs populations as well as pet owners. Disaster housing planning tools must also be adaptable to meet the diverse range of communities, from smaller rural areas to densely populated urban areas.
- Funding/Staffing. Implementing the Strategy will require dedicated funding and staffing. The Task Force should identify existing funding and staffing requirements to support the Strategy and how these needs can be met through existing programs and through expanded partnerships to pool limited resources toward joint goals. As part of this effort, FEMA will review how existing grant programs could support disaster housing preparedness at the local and State levels. For example, as part of the 2007 Emergency Management Performance Grants FEMA required 25 percent of funding to be applied toward planning. All organizations should review their own disaster housing responsibilities and roles and dedicate the necessary resources to fulfill their roles and develop requisite capabilities. This may require developing partnerships or agreements with nearby jurisdictions.
- Training. The Task Force will work with FEMA training organizations such as the Center for Domestic Preparedness and the Emergency Management Institute to develop competency-based training activities to support the creation of disaster housing capabilities. Training will include traditional classroom courses, exercise-based courses, and online training as appropriate to meet the needs of diverse disaster housing stakeholders. Training results will be captured and provided to the Task Force to gauge program effectiveness.
- Technical Assistance. The Task Force should explore what types and levels of technical assistance are needed and how to best provide that support. In some cases, technical assistance can be provided through online toolkits or through interactive workshops that enable local and State governments to share best practices with each other and jointly address common challenges. In other cases, these needs may help further define the types of Federal support that should be provided during a Presidentially declared disaster. Other needs may best be addressed by working closely with key associations in emergency management, city planning, architecture, or other areas to develop national conferences or workshops.
- Improving Individual and Household Preparedness. FEMA supports State and local efforts to encourage individuals and households to be prepared for disasters and emergencies through initiatives such as "Ready.gov" and "Are You Ready?" that provide training and outreach materials. This includes guidance on developing personal and household emergency plans, for example, and public service announcements regarding other recommended preparedness measures. The Task Force should examine these programs to ensure that they address the specific steps individuals and families must take in case an event should force them from their homes either temporarily or for an extended period. The Task Force should enhance existing outreach programs, including collaboration with disability support organizations, and develop new ones as needed to help State and local governments improve this important element of individual and family preparedness.
- Improving Federal Systems. Federal systems that support housing operations should be efficient and effective in providing timely information for both response officials and policymakers. Examine existing systems to ensure, for example, that they track the movement of registrants as they receive sheltering, interim housing, and permanent housing assistance.
- Engaging the Private Sector. Earlier sections of the Strategy reference the key roles that housing agents and rental property owners, the manufactured housing industry, and builders play in disaster housing. The Task Force should look for ways to foster those relationships, expand communications, and extend the scope of private-sector engagement by reaching out to other sectors (e.g., retail merchants, medical equipment manufacturers, and urban planners) that may not traditionally be associated with disaster housing. The Task Force should also examine impediments, such as complicated government contracting processes, that prevent companies from sharing innovation, expertise, and more efficient methods of handling aspects of disaster housing.
- Review and Assess Disaster Housing Authorities
A key requirement of the Post-Katrina Emergency Reform Act (PKEMRA) is for FEMA to "describe any additional authorities necessary to carry out any portion of the National Disaster Housing Strategy."
Analyses conducted by FEMA and HUD indicate that both organizations may require additional authorities. These requirements are being developed and will be forwarded upon completion.