Emergency housing

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this article is part of the Village Buildings book / article collection. 

See also Homeless encampments article in that collection. 

"Housing in the twentieth century has been one continuing emergency." 
- Charles Abrams, The Future of Housing. 1946.

Emergency, Transitional, and Refugee shelter[edit]


"An emergency shelter is a place for people to live temporarily when they cannot live in their previous residence, similar to homeless shelters. The main difference is that an emergency shelter typically specializes in people fleeing a specific type of situation, such as natural or man-made disastersdomestic violence, or victims of sexual abuse. A more minor difference is that people staying in emergency shelters are more likely to stay all day, except for work, school, or errands, while homeless shelters usually expect people to stay elsewhere during the day, returning only to sleep or eat. Emergency shelters sometimes facilitate support groups, and/or provide meals.

Post-disaster emergency shelter is often provided by organizations or governmental emergency management departments, in response to natural disasters, such as a flood or earthquake. They tend to use tents or other temporary structures, or buildings normally used for another purpose, such as a church or school. These settlements may be inhabited for the entire duration of the reconstruction process and should be thought of more as settlements than shelter, and need to be planned with respect to water / sanitation, livelihoods. See also: Transitional shelter and Refugee shelter. "  -Wikipedia, "Emergency shelter" accessed 21 March, 2020.   

San Francisco 1906 Earthquake response[edit]

O'Connor, Charles James, et al (1913). San Francisco Relief Survey; the organization and methods of relief used after the earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906.  New York: Survey Associates, 1913.. https://archive.org/details/sanfranciscoreli00oconrich/page/n8.

San Jose Bridge Housing Communities[edit]

San Jose Covid-19 Emergency Interim Housing[edit]

Clark, Bryan. "San Jose will build ‘up to 500’ tiny homes for coronavirus-affected homeless residents." The Next Web, April 9 2020. https://thenextweb.com/corona/2020/04/09/asan-jose-will-build-up-to-500-tiny-homes-for-coronavirus-affected-homeless-residents/.
"San Jose city officials expect the construction of each unit to run nearly $25,000, and plans to use both city-owned and private land to complete the project. 'This is pretty inexpensive,' Liccardo said. 'But obviously, if we can make it last 10-15 years, it’s a huge return compared to the alternative.' "Despite a budget deficit of $110 million over the next two years, the city plans to move forward with the $17 million project. To fund it, city officials plan to seek assistance from a grant, the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention program, a one-time block grant offered by the state of California to aid in housing its growing homeless population."
proposed San Jose Covid-19 Emergency Interim Housing, Evan Lane site, April 2020.
proposed San Jose Covid-19 Emergency Interim Housing, Evan Lane site, April 2020.

proposed San Jose Covid-19 Emergency Interim Housing, Evan Lane site, April 2020.
proposed San Jose Covid-19 Emergency Interim Housing, Evan Lane site, April 2020.

Liccardo, Sam. (2020). Comments in "Reaching the Peak," in interactive Q&A with the mayors of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and a UCSF doctor. ABC 7 News (Bay Area), April 16, 2020. https://abc7ne.ws/34Gydvn. (video also at https://www.facebook.com/57427307078/videos/555368625125184).  At 16:40.
Discussing San Jose government's plan to use emergency funding [state-administered HHAP block grant] to build non-congregate shelters that are durable, prefab structures, to provide transitional housing both immediately and longer-term.
City of San José. "Emergency Interim Housing Response to COVID-19 and City Shelter Crises Declaration." Accessed 27 June 2020. https://www.sanjoseca.gov/home/showdocument?id=57132.
In the near-term, emergency interim housing provides some additional short-term shelter to more unhoused residents so that they can meet the statewide and local orders to  Shelter-in-Place, helping to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and keeping us all safer. As the COVID-19 risk declines, these housing communities can provide short-term transitional shelter to unhoused residents while they wait for placement in a permanent supportive affordable apartment or locate other housing.

− Two such sites are being developed in south San José. The Monterey and Bernal site will have approximately 20 modular units fully connected to public utilities that will house up to 80 formerly unhoused residents in furnished private rooms. The community will be located on a City-owned site and will include individual shower and restroom facilities within each room, shared facilities for living needs, office space for staff to provide services, a perimeter fence and onsite security, pet accommodations, onsite parking for residents and staff, and basic traffic safety improvements.

Two such sites are being developed in south San José. The Monterey and Bernal site will have approximately 20 modular units fully connected to public utilities that will house up to 80 formerly unhoused residents in furnished private rooms. The community will be located on a City-owned site and will include individual shower and restroom facilities within each room, shared facilities for living needs, office space for staff to provide services, a perimeter fence and onsite security, pet accommodations, onsite parking for residents and staff, and basic traffic safety improvements.

4) Will more Emergency Interim Housing or Bridge Housing be developed elsewhere in the City? If so, how will this site compare to others?

The City opened its first Bridge Housing Community in Council District 3 off Mabury Road this spring and is currently developing its second site in Council District 7 off Felipe Road near Story Road. The Monterey and Bernal and Rue Ferrari and 101 sites are being flexibly developed to serve dual purposes as emergency interim housing sites and future bridge housing sites to address both immediate needs and future needs.

− The City also operates overnight warming locations, safe parking programs, and has stood up mass shelter sites during the COVID-19 crisis. Overnight warming locations have been hosted in Council Districts 3 and 6, safe parking programs in Districts 2, 3, and 7, and the mass shelters stood up in response to COVID-19 (South Hall and Parkside) are both located downtown in District 3. FEMA trailers to house at-risk and/or unsheltered residents are located in a District 7 City parking lot at Kelly Park, and a family shelter recently opened in District 9 at the Camden Community Center.

− Both emergency shelter and Bridge Housing Communities in the City of San José are intended to be short-term or transitional housing.

5) Who is building the Monterey and Bernal site and when will it be completed?

Habitat for Humanity (Habitat) was selected as the project developer for the site at Monterey and Bernal. Habitat built the City’s first BHC site on Mabury Road in Council District 3 and is also developing a second BHC site near Felipe Avenue in Council District 7.
The Bridge Housing Community at Mabury Road uses individual small housing units, a design developed pro-bono by Gensler architecture in partnership with the City . While these were pictured during announcements and in media coverage of the Emergency Interim Housing, the EIH projects appear to be planned for multi-unit modular structures, 4 units per structure.


Angst, Maggie. "Despite budget shortfall, San Jose spends $17 million on tiny homes for homeless amid the coronavirus outbreak." San Jose Mercury News, April 8, 2020. https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/04/08/despite-budget-shortfall-san-jose-is-spending-17-million-to-build-tiny-homes-for-homeless/. [paywalled].

Angst, Maggie. "Tensions mount as San Jose chooses new site for homeless housing amid coronavirus." San Jose Mercury News, April 22, 2020. https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/04/22/tensions-mount-as-san-jose-chooses-new-site-for-the-homeless-amid-coronavirus/. [paywalled].

New Starter Homes [edit]

See: https://bit.ly/levitatetown.


Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition, 2020[edit]


"The NLIHC-(National Low Income Housing Coalition) led Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition is pushing for a broad array of resources and protections, including emergency rental assistance and eviction prevention assistance, a national moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, and emergency funds for homelessness service providers, housing authorities, and housing providers, among other recommendations. For more information, download our recommendations on the federal response to the coronavirus below. You can also visit our dedicated webpage outlining our requests to Congress. Click here for NLIHC Recommendations."  The Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition will lead recurring national calls on Coronavirus and Homelessness/Housing every Monday at 2:30pmET until Congress includes housing and homelessness resources in the COVID-19 stimulus package. We're also thoroughly devoted to ensuring members of our community, from across the country, are fully equipped with the information and resources they need to respond to this national outbreak of Coronavirus and its impact on people experiencing homelessness and low-income households.


NLCHP (National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty) recommendations[edit]

NLCHP. "COVID-19 Statement & Recommendations." March 2020. 

"People without housing are especially vulnerable to poor health and communicable diseases, including COVID-19 - the coronavirus pandemic threatening the lives and health of people worldwide. Worse yet, unhoused people have limited options for safe, sanitary shelter, making an effective response to the deadly virus extremely difficult. To effectively address this public health crisis, we must implement the human rights to housing and healthcare.  Forcing people experiencing homelessness into close, congregate facilities such as large scale shelters is a recipe for rapid spread of disease. Recommendations: 

1) House people experiencing homelessness in hotels, motels, and/or RVs for the duration of
the crisis.

2) Place a moratorium on sweeping encampments and seizing homeless people’s tents and
other temporary structures and stop enforcement of laws prohibiting resting and sheltering
oneself in public space. [..]

While encampments are not a long-term solution, preserving individuals’ ability to safely and legally sleep in private tents instead of mass facilities would ensure people can more safely shelter in place, maintain social distancing, and reduce sleep deprivation.
3) Increase access to hygiene and sanitation services for those living in unsheltered areas.[...]

8) Federal, state, and local surplus governmental property available for safe camping, parking and access to supplies and services." 

Corona Cottages[edit]

[note: this is a section within Disaster_housing article, in the Village Buildings "community book" / article collection, hosted on HousingWiki / YIMBYwiki. See also Homeless encampments article in that collection. To link directly to this section, use: coronacottages.housing.wiki]. 

A proposal for disaster response, rapid disaster-reponse housing designed to provide immediate shelter but also evolve into and be re-sited as permanent housing.  Analogous to the Earthquake Cottages (5600 of them) built in San Francisco in months after 1906 earthquake. 

draws upon concepts from New Starter Homes (see above) e.g. for incremental building, movable homes, and creating path from interim/shelter housing to permanent housing in various contexts. 

Proposed by Tim McCormick (HousingWiki editor), who has made related suggestions over several years (e.g. New Starter Homes grant proposal project, above) in several ways for general houseless / low-income housing response. 

This came out of public discussion March 20-22 on risks of congregate shelters exacerbating risks of coronavirus infection/transmission among the houseless.

Dan Treglia posts article about report written by him, Culhane, Dennis, Dan Treglia, Ken Steif, Randall Kuhn, and Thomas Byrne. Treglia is "PostDoctoral Fellow at @PennSP2 (@Penn's School of Social Policy & Practice) and Incoming Associate Faculty Director at Penn's Partnership for Effective Public Administration and Leadership Ethics. "

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report: Culhane, Dennis, Dan Treglia, Ken Steif, Randall Kuhn, and Thomas Byrne. "Estimated Emergency and Observational/Quarantine Bed Need for the US Homeless Population Related to COVID-19 Exposure by County; Projected Hospitalizations, Intensive Care Units and Mortality." National Alliance to End Homelesness, March 20, 2020. https://endhomelessness.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/COVID-paper_clean-636pm.pdf.

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reply from Kelly Doran, "Emergency physician researcher trying to do some good in the world. @EMxSDOH_lab PI. @CDUHR_NYC affiliate (https://tinyurl.com/sxrnyd2). Tweets my own. she/her."

Doran specializes on study of how medical/health services handle homelessness issues, and had been posting on this previously, e.g. quoted in Politico story here: https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/2020/03/18/coronavirus-poses-unique-threat-to-disproportionately-vulnerable-homeless-new-yorkers-1267762.

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reply from Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity (1999-2015), an organization dedicated to post-disaster humanitarian relief.

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Steve Berg, VP, National Alliance to End Homelessness

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from Tim McCormick, 22 March 2020: (message to Jeff Wilson, founder of Kasita, and Cameron Sinclair, former founder of Architecture for Humanity

"Especially on West Coast, we need implementable plans ASAP to create 10,000s of separate-unit disaster shelter/housing. Local authorities are bumbling into congregate-shelter approaches or doing nothing for unsheltered houseless, both of which could have catastrophic results.

"At this point, I think one of best models/precedents is the response to San Francisco 1906 earthquake. Overseen by Army Corps of Engineers by invitation of the City, camps of platform tents were immediately created on multiple areas of public land. Then basic "earthquake cottages" were designed, bids put out to create them for all unhoused, replacing the tents. The companies chosen hired a lot of the displacees to do building work, which was mostly quite low-skilled. The cottages were offered on rent-to-own terms, provided the resident moved them within a certain time (like 18 months?).

"Almost all of the Earthquake Cottages were acquired by their residents, and moved to other locations and used for housing, commercial space, often as appendage to or kernel of larger buildings. Some still exist, free-standing, or embedded within larger homes including that of a friend of mine.

"So I suggest analogous Corona Cottages, with pathway created for them to be re-siteable as permanent accessory dwellings, public village housing, or cluster housing.




later, public conversation in Oregon led to Oregonian homelessness reporter Molly Harburger discussing with McCormick for story on homelessness proposals planned for Thurs March 26th or so.


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followup from Ruth Scofield Owen, Deputy Director at FEANTSA.

"FEANTSA is the European Federation of National Organisations working with the Homeless (French: Fédération Européenne d'Associations Nationales Travaillant avec les Sans-Abri), the only major European network that focuses exclusively on homelessness at European level and receives financial support from the European Commission for the implementation of its activities. FEANTSA also works closely with other EU institutions, and has consultative status at the Council of Europe and the United Nations." - Wikipedia (En), "FEANTSA."

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comment from Leilani Farha @leilanifarha, UN Special Rapporteur right 2 Housing, ED CWP. leilani.farha@unhousingrapp.org

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NOTES / COMMENTS:  you can enter in the Google Doc embedded below, or also edit the Google Doc directly 

<gdoc id="10sVtr2i4_pdoGesIk6mQQwH_J58sp-a0iiP0vTaNp-c"></gdoc>

Temporary medical facilities[edit]

U.S. Army @USArmy Mar 20
Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, Chief of the @USACEHQ, provides a 'simple' solution to the complicated problem of building temporary medical facilities to assist states with responding to #COVID19. This clip is from a press conference by Army senior leader on March 20, 2020. https://twitter.com/USArmy/status/1241185656094801923? primarily for adaptation of existing buildings e.g. hotels. 

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