As provided by FEMA, about the Joint Housing Solutions Group (JHSG):
Following a major disaster, one of FEMA’s most urgent needs during the recovery process is emergency shelter and housing for disaster victims. In light of this need and in order to increase its level of preparation for future disasters, FEMA implemented several initiatives, including the Joint Housing Solutions Group (JHSG). Created in September 2006, the JHSG aims to research, evaluate, and document alternatives to traditional disaster housing while also recommending improvements for conducting disaster housing operations.
Evaluation Protocol for Alternative Units
Over the past two years, the JHSG has carefully put together a comprehensive evaluation protocol for housing providers. Through referrals and its outreach efforts, over 200 providers have been identified, with over 150 completing the initial step in the evaluation process by filling out the on-line Housing Assessment Tool (HAT). The first and, in many ways, the most important step, the JHSG uses the information provided in the HAT to identify alternatives to FEMA travel trailers and expand the range of viable disaster housing options.
The assessment tool contains 186 questions about the major aspects of potential housing products. The questions are organized according to four criteria used to analyze alternative housing units:
- Range of Use: How adaptable it would be under various environmental, geographic, and cultural or conditions required by local government.
- Livability: How well the units can accommodate or help provide for a household’s daily living essentials as well as their physical and emotional needs
- Timeliness: How fast units could be made ready for occupancy.
- Cost: How cost-effective the unit would be in absolute terms and in terms of its value relative to other housing options.
The goal of identifying viable alternatives is to provide flexibility in FEMA’s selection of disaster housing so that unique regional and community considerations can be addressed while providing safer, higher quality housing options. Ultimately, FEMA intends to pilot test promising units in order to better understand their performance capabilities and limitations in helping FEMA better assist disaster victims.
Disaster Housing Operations
The Joint Housing Solutions Groups also provides invaluable expertise and ground support to FEMA Disaster Housing Operations during disasters. During two recent disasters, the JHSG assisted in the determination of the scope of the housing mission and was available to provide guidance on the types of housing units available for consideration. The JHSG will continue to actively increase its role in this regard and continues to refine its capabilities in this respect.The JHSG Team
The JHSG team include housing specialists from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); building science experts from the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS); and specialists from FEMA housing, policy, Individual Assistance, Long-Term Recovery and Public Assistance divisions.
For technical assistance related to the HAT, please email the RIMS team at FEMA-IA-JHSG@DHS.GOV.