By Andie Lowenstein, Associate Editor
New York — A new safety method, the first of its kind, is taking the multifamily market by storm.
Enterprise Community Partners Inc., a national organization that creates and advocates for affordable housing in prospering communities, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released a national emergency preparedness staffing toolkit for multifamily housing. Enterprise and HUD developed Ready to Respond: Disaster Staffing Toolkit to help affordable housing organizations build emergency plans that endorse business continuity, resident engagement and building protection. The toolkit is the very first dedicated to multifamily housing emergency planning and will be dispersed across the U.S.
“The simple truth is we can no longer afford to be unprepared for the growing threat that climate change poses to local communities,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “This toolkit offers multifamily property owners what they need to better protect their developments and their residents. What we do today will put us on a more resilient path to weather the next disaster that will most surely come our way.”
The Ready to Respond: Disaster Staffing Toolkit includes videos, guides, worksheets, and checklists to assist housing organizations with allocating staff to disaster response roles, participate in crucial planning tasks, test the strength of their plan with a simulated disaster scenario, and fulfill ongoing maintenance. Developed in partnership with 12 leading community development corporations (CDCs) from New York and New Jersey as part of the Enterprise Recovery and Rebuilding program, the toolkit is based on the Incident Command System (ICS), a planning outline used by federal, state and local first responder agencies to help organize command, control and coordination of emergency responses. The use of ICS will permit multifamily housing organizations and CDCs to clearly communicate with first responder agencies.
“Hurricane Sandy showed affordable housing organizations the importance of disaster preparedness and maintaining continuity. Their residents are the most vulnerable, the least able to adapt in a crisis and the least likely to recover quickly and fully without support,” added Terri Ludwig, president & CEO, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “The Ready to Respond: Disaster Staffing Toolkit will help affordable housing organizations across the country better protect their residents, minimize the impact of emergencies and prepare and safeguard their buildings and staff.”
The toolkit comes as part of a larger package called Ready to Respond: Tools for Resilience that Enterprise created to help affordable housing organizations of all sizes handle shocks from major disasters and build the resilience needed to acclimate to future emergencies. Along with the staffing toolkit, Enterprise created Are You Ready to Respond?, an organizational self-assessment for emergency readiness, and Ready to Respond: Strategies for Multifamily Building Resilience, a set of 20 retrofit strategies that building owners can apply to make their properties more resilient against climate hazards, set for release on the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
To go along with the launch of the toolkit, Enterprise will host Ready to Respond: An Overview of Enterprise’s Disaster Staffing Toolkit on August 14, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (ET). This Live Online Event will guide affordable housing owners and operators, housing directors, asset managers, and those interested in disaster preparedness planning on the overall structure of the Toolkit, the importance of the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator (EPC), how to understand the Disaster Response Roles and the tools to help them succeed. Additional Live Online Events will be held on September 8, 10, 17, and 22 and October 6, 13, 15, 20, 21, 27, and 28.