This webinar on Thursday, July 20, explored the latest data about the preparedness and response efforts for people experiencing homelessness during water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH)-related emergencies. Hear from local jurisdictions that have successfully updated emergency plans to address this population and learn about focus group findings, tools, and resources to support this work.
People experiencing homelessness often have limited access to sanitation facilities and face barriers to engaging in hygiene behaviors. This places individuals and families experiencing homelessness at a higher risk for WASH-related health emergencies, such as outbreaks of shigellosis and hepatitis A. Additionally, certain WASH-related emergencies, such as natural disasters, may lead to the destruction and/or closure of facilities, creating additional barriers to accessing sanitation and hygiene services.
Local health departments and other governmental agencies are at the forefront of preparing for and responding to WASH-related emergencies. Prior to, during, and immediately following emergencies, LHDs implement protective measures, communicate with the public, and coordinate the provision of necessary and timely resources to ensure and protect health. Unfortunately, emergency responses are not always inclusive of the needs of people experiencing homelessness, increasing vulnerability to poor health outcomes within this population.
Five local jurisdictions have spent the past year updating and exercising their emergency preparedness plans to meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness, supported by funding and technical assistance from NACCHO and CDC. During this webinar, these jurisdictions share their experiences, lessons learned, and best practices. NACCHO also shares findings from a recent focus group conducted with local health departments on this topic.
- Abigail Menke, Deputy Director, Franklin County Health Department (MO)
- Andrea Johnson, Health Educator, Franklin County Health Department (MO)
- Nancy Rihan-Porter, Director of Equity, Resilience and Preparedness, Cambridge Public Health Department (MA)
- Sean Roberts, Emergency Services Specialist, Tulare County Health & Human Services, Public Health (CA)
- Ted McCoy, Emergency Preparedness Planner, Franklin County Public Health (OH)
- Toni Hauser, Supervisor of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Minneapolis Health Department (MN)
- Sindy Mau, Emergency Preparedness Specialist, Minneapolis Health Department (MN)