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Disaster Shelter Services for People with Disabilities During COVID-19

Case Study Last Reviewed: July 17, 2020

During natural disasters that coincide with a pandemic, shelter providers can coordinate with disability service organizations to ensure the accessibility of congregate and non-congregate shelters.

The following is a list of key findings and considerations for jurisdictions and communities regarding ongoing COVID-19 pandemic operations across the country. These are best practices for consideration and do not constitute or should not be considered as guidance in any way.

This document contains references and links to non-federal resources and organizations. This information is meant solely for informational purposes and is not intended to be an endorsement of any non-federal entity by FEMA, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or the U.S. government.

Areas for Improvement

  • Concurrent emergency declarations for natural disasters, including tornadoes and flooding, during the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges for individuals with disabilities who required shelter services due to concerns of social distancing.
    • Mitigating Action: Shelter providers should consider coordinating with local disability service provider organizations to collaborate on how to ensure congregate and non-congregate sheltering are accessible to people with disabilities.

Potential Best Practices

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed an Alternate Care Site (ACS) toolkit with accessibility considerations and guidance.