Your Second Home: Re-thinking of Post-disaster Housing

Document Type

Thesis, Senior




Spring 2019


disasters, transitional housing, Panama City, hurricane Katrina, multi-scalar solution






Natural disasters such as tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes destroy our infrastructure, civic buildings, public amenities, and homes. These disasters create problems of homelessness, but they also create environments within the city that are unlivable due to a lack of electricity and potable water. People displaced by disasters often find themselves living in a government- or non-profit-run evacuation shelter, at the mercy of bureaucratic organizations for assistance to begin the recovery process. People forced to evacuate neighborhoods where they have perhaps been established for decades often also lose their ability to commute to work (if their employer still exists) as well as their ability to attend school. These shelter environments are repurposed public buildings like schools and sports stadiums, which become the temporary home of sometimes tens of thousands of people. Due to the social and political diversity and the recent collective trauma of the shelter residents, these environments become high-stress and potentially dangerous places. Because shelters can’t stay open forever, government organizations and nonprofits have a number of programs designed to get shelter residents to other forms of housing. FEMA can provide temporary sheltering in a hotel up to two years (for those who qualify) while organizations like the Red Cross can help find alternative housing solutions, and Catholic Charities can provide transportation to go even as far as the next state over to stay with family. Even with all of this assistance, circumstances arise where a certain margin of shelter residents struggle to move on to recovery before the shelter closes. This population mainly consists of people with disabilities, the elderly, and those who were homeless pre-disaster. Due to extenuating circumstances, these people have very little means to recover from disasters and there are limited transitional housing options for them. The author's thesis situates itself within this issue of transitional housing and seeks to find a solution that can accommodate this often marginalized population.

The thesis claims are as follows:

1. Every person after a disaster is entitled to shelter in some way, shape, or form

2. This shelter should be adequate in space and amenity to support the individual or group utilizing it

3. People should be made to feel safe, comfortable, and respected

4. Individuals with special needs and disabilities should be made to feel included in the solution, not like they are taking up extra resources.

Additional Information

Thesis Advisors:

Lori Brown


Local Input

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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