Homelessness and Climate Change: A Roundup of Resources for Communities Before, During, and After Disasters

June 13, 2023


Climate change has resulted in more frequent and severe natural disasters that can displace people from their homes and put lives at risk. People experiencing homelessness—especially people from underserved and marginalized communities, including Black and Latino/a populations and tribal nations—face even greater health and safety risks during (and less ability to prepare for and recover from) wildfires, floods, hurricanes, and other climate-related crises. For example, without proper planning and implementation by emergency response systems, people experiencing homelessness may not receive disaster communications, may be left out of evacuation plans, and may not be welcome or appropriately cared for in disaster shelters. Further, people experiencing unsheltered homelessness are particularly vulnerable to environmental disasters and hazards, and the criminalization of homelessness can worsen these impacts by displacing people to more environmentally toxic areas.


This resource roundup provides an inventory of tools that can help communities develop strategies to address the unique needs of people experiencing homelessness before, during, and after environmental disasters and hazards. The resources cover the following topics:

  • Relevant Federal Funding
  • Disaster Preparedness
  • Disaster Response
  • Disaster Recovery
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Engaging People Experiencing Homelessness
  • Community and Federal Contacts for Coordination

This is a non-exhaustive roundup of federal funding, guidance, and information-sharing. Let USICH know if we missed any resources by emailing Alec.Vandenberg@usich.gov.

Federal Agency Abbreviations 

  • CDC = Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • ED = U.S. Department of Education
  • EPA = U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • FEMA = Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • HHS = U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • HUD = U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • NIH = National Institutes of Health
  • SAMHSA = Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • VA = U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Relevant Federal Funding 

While no single federal program specifically addresses all the needs of people experiencing homelessness in response to climate-induced hazards or disasters, relevant funding for communities includes:

Disaster Preparedness 

Disaster Response 

Disaster Recovery 

Environmental Hazards 

Engaging People Experiencing Homelessness 

As communities develop and implement relevant policies and practices to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and environmental hazards, they must intentionally, meaningfully, and effectively engage people who are or have experienced homelessness—in particular people of color, people identifying as LGBTQIA+, and other historically marginalized groups who are overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness and groups who face the brunt of the climate crisis.

Contacts for Coordination 

Preparing for, responding to, and recovering from environmental disasters and hazards requires  collaboration among people experiencing homelessness; local, state, and federal leaders; disaster preparedness teams; health and human services departments; environmental services; affordable housing developers; and the philanthropy and faith communities; and others.

Community and Grantee Contacts 

Federal Government Contacts 

Many federal government agencies play a role in disaster preparation, response, and recovery; and most have regional offices or coordinators that work directly with state and local organizations across the country. Click the links below to find your regional contact for the following federal agencies:

All In: The Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness 

The Biden-Harris administration recognizes that climate change, as well as long-standing environmental injustice, drive housing instability and homelessness and take an inequitable toll on people already experiencing homelessness. All In includes specific strategies to address the impact of climate change on homelessness:

  • Encouraging Continuums of Care, especially in rural and tribal areas, to have an inclusive community crisis response plan in the event of an emergency or a local surge in the need for shelter and/or housing placements;
  • Enhancing and expanding technical assistance and training on disaster response and recovery planning for homelessness systems with special attention to the disparate impact to already unhoused people;
  • Facilitating greater collaboration between federal partners that play a key role on disaster and public health response—including the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security—and national emergency management associations and trade groups—including the National Emergency Management Association, International Association of Emergency Managers, and Association of Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Professionals;
  • Continuing to encourage state emergency management agencies to include people experiencing homelessness in their disaster response and emergency management protocols with attention to particularly vulnerable populations such as older adults and people with disabilities who are experiencing homelessness, and;
  • Increasing collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency to focus on better understanding how climate change will exacerbate the condition of homelessness.

For more on how USICH can help your community prevent and end homelessness, contact your state’s USICH senior regional advisor.