Guest Post: Disaster philanthropy and housing

Posted on September 07, 2012 by Guest Blogger

Editor's Note: Veronica Taylor is a consultant specializing in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. She previously worked with The Patterson Foundation to help deepen its understanding of the disaster space. As a guest blogger, she will cover issues relevant to the disaster sector. 

This is the third in a series of blogs recommending areas to leverage resources for the most impact and dollar-for-dollar return on investment. I will also suggest a few non-profits working in that area. I do not endorse any of these organizations. There are thousands of non-profits engaged in disaster work, so in no way can these lists be inclusive.

These suggestions focus primarily on national disasters, although additional recommendations can be made for international disasters. Please feel free to recommend additional non-profits working in specific areas of disaster.


One of the most basic foundations of community recovery is the timely provision of temporary housing and rapid repair and reconstruction of permanent housing that meets the needs of all residents’ income levels. None of the other long-term, post-disaster recovery components will be possible without housing.

Although there are several avenues for federal and private housing programs, accessing those funds and guiding residents through the myriad of paperwork is daunting. Even when funds are accessed, the average difference between FEMA grants, insurance settlements and true need is $25,000 per claim according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.

One of the biggest opportunities to leverage disaster recovery dollars is in "building back better." An independent study released last year revealed that every dollar invested in building safer and stronger structures -- to better weather the next disaster -- saves $4.

For full disclosure, I did work for Habitat for Humanity International as their Director of Operations for Operation Home Delivery in the recovery of Hurricane Katrina and as their Senior Director of Global Disaster Response. I was also the COO for Brad Pitt’s non-profit in New Orleans, Make It Right.  Post disaster housing and building back better is one of my passions in life.  Both organizations are doing great work, along with many other housing non-profits.  I would like to give a special shout out to all the wonderful volunteers that swing hammers every day!

Give me a shout back – either on the blog or at!

Potential partnerships for philanthropists: Local Community Development Financial Institution, local housing authority, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity, Make It Right.

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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