DSHA Hosts First Meeting of Disaster Housing Task Force

DSHA Hosts First Meeting of Disaster Housing Task Force
Laurie Stovall
Posted By: Laurie Stovall

The Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) held the first meeting of the Disaster Housing Task Force on Feb. 22 at its Liberty Court Community Room. The Disaster Housing Task Force (DHTF) aims to help shape the Disaster Housing Strategy by cataloging existing state and local resources, capabilities, and collaborative efforts related to housing and identifying resource and capability gaps.

Attending the meeting were more than 40 representatives of federal, state, and local agencies, housing authorities, community organizations and other nonprofits that have potential roles in housing recovery, including:

  • Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA)
  • Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)
  • Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS)
  • Office of State Planning Coordination
  • Delaware Department of Education
  • Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT).
  • Sussex County Community Development
  • Wilmington Office of Emergency Management
  • Wilmington Housing Authority
  • Milford Housing Development Corporation
  • Housing Alliance Delaware
  • United Way
  • American Red Cross
  • Delaware Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
  • Eleventh Street Bridge Long-Term Recovery Group
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Kent County Association of Realtors
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Presentations were given by DSHA’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Vanessa Cullen, DSHA’s Chief Strategy Advisor, Caitlin Del Collo, and the director of DEMA, A.J. Schall.

Civix, a professional services firm that DSHA has contracted with to help develop the Strategy and manage the Task Force, also shared common disaster housing recovery concepts and reiterated the group’s goals for the state, which are:

  • Building a common understanding between emergency management and housing partners through shared terminology and concepts to facilitate better coordination during disasters.
  • Developing robust housing assistance strategies to provide aid for both declared and non-declared disasters.
  • Identifying gaps in existing housing assistance programs and capabilities through preparedness planning.
  • Identifying vulnerable or hard-to-reach populations and incorporating plans to increase their housing access and security.
  • Identifying short- and long-term housing solutions, from interim to permanent housing.
  • Creating a Disaster Housing Strategy that is easy to understand for emergency managers, housing professionals, and other stakeholders across the state.

Following the presentations, one topic discussed was the disaster housing timeline continuum, which is made up of sheltering, interim housing, and permanent or long-term housing, and where organizations, based on their roles and responsibilities, fit on the timeline.

It was noted that although DHSS is responsible for sheltering and DSHA oversees long-term housing, the responsibility for interim housing has yet to be assigned. The Task Force will address this issue in the future.

The meeting produced “positive, robust conversation,” Cullen said.

She added, “If everyone who attended walked away with an understanding of how their existing work fits into disaster housing and why creating the strategy is so important to the state of Delaware, then it was a successful meeting.”

The next Disaster Housing Task Force meeting is tentatively planned for June 2024, when a first draft of the Disaster Housing Strategy will be available for review. For more information about the DHTF, please contact Vanessa Cullen at [email protected].

Media inquiries

Laurie M. Stovall
Director of Public Relations
Toll-Free (888) 363-8808

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