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Addressing the Access and Functional Needs of At-Risk Individuals

At-risk individuals are people with access and functional needs (temporary or permanent) that may interfere with their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or public health emergency. 

Examples of at-risk populations may include but are not limited to children, pregnant women, older adults, people with disabilities, people from diverse cultures, people with limited English proficiency, people with limited access to transportation, people with limited access to financial resources, people experiencing homelessness, people who have chronic health conditions, and people who have pharmacological dependency.

At-Risk Populations

Visualization of examples of at risk individuals listed above

During a disaster or emergency, public health and medical professionals need to take action to protect the health of at-risk individuals. In addition, public health professionals and medical providers are often required by law or executive order to address the needs of at-risk individuals during disasters and emergencies.

  • Homelessness Emergency Planning Toolkit: Disaster Preparedness to Promote Community Resilience, Information and Tools for Homeless Serving Providers and Disaster Professionals: Individuals and families experiencing homelessness are some of the most underserved members of our society and they are often disproportionately impacted by disasters and emergencies. This toolkit from the Departments of Veteran’s Affairs, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development is designed to help homeless service providers address the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness in emergencies. It includes three sections: 1) Creating and Inclusive Emergency Management Systems; 2) Guidance for Homeless Service Providers; and 3) Guidance for Health Care Providers. (At-Risk Individuals Program)
  • Disaster Response for Homeless Individuals and Families: A Trauma-Informed Approach: People experiencing homelessness typically have limited resources and likely have past trauma, so they may be at a higher risk of an adverse physical or psychological reaction following a disaster. This fact sheet that provides information on planning for individuals and families experiencing homelessness during emergencies and understanding past trauma. (At-Risk Individuals Program)
  • Population-Specific Resources: People Experiencing Homelessness: This resource collection by ASPR TRACIE helps planners create disaster plans that consider the care homeless communities. This resource includes information from HHS, National Health Care for the Homeless, and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Mental and physical help are important for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Population-Specific Resources: People Experiencing Homelessness (COVID-19): This resource collection by ASPR TRACIE includes resources for health care providers, emergency managers, homeless shelters, and other providers who are assist people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic. This resource list provides information to help providers handle positive tests, address special pediatric considerations, take action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and more.
  • Federal Programs that Support Individuals Experiencing Homelessness: To Identify forms of federal assistance that can provide additional support to agencies/organizations addressing the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. This guidance provides lists of federal programs in a funding matrix that may be utilized help federal, state, and local funding to meet short- and long-term needs. (At-Risk Individuals Program)
  • Homeless Shelter Resources ​for COVID-19: ASPR TRACIE developed a compilation of resources to help outpatient centers document COVID-19 test results for clients experiencing homelessness and information on managing designated shelters for people experiencing homelessness who have tested positive for COVID-19.