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Emergency shelters

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Emergency shelters are places for people to live temporarily when they can't live in their previous residence, similar to homeless shelters. The main difference is that an emergency shelter typically specializes in people fleeing a specific type of situation, such as natural or man-made disasters, domestic violence, or victims of sexual abuse. A more minor difference is that people staying in emergency shelters are more likely to stay all day, except for work, school, or errands, while homeless shelters usually expect people to stay elsewhere during the day, returning only to sleep or eat. Emergency shelters sometimes facilitate support groups, and/or provide meals.

Post-disaster emergency shelter is often provided by organisations like the Red Cross and Red Crescent, UNHCR or governmental emergency management departments, in response to natural disasters, such as a flood or earthquake. They tend to use tents or other temporary structures, or buildings normally used for another purpose, such as a church or school. These settlements may be inhabited for the entire duration of the reconstruction process and should be thought of more as settlements than shelter, and need to be planned with respect to water / sanitation, livelihoods.

A newer category of emergency shelter is the warming center. Warming centers typically open during particularly cold or rainy nights. They are available to persons who decline to accept homeless shelters, are not allowed to use homeless shelters, or are not homeless but have inadequate or malfunctioning heat in their homes.

Transitional shelterEdit

Transitional shelter is any of a range of shelter options that help a person or population displaced by conflict or natural disaster until they return to permanent accommodation.

This relatively new terminology arose to fill a conceptual gap in traditional refugee camp disaster responses, which left populations living often for many years in decrepit emergency shelter. There is debate however on the cost effectiveness of this type of shelter solution because of repeated costs incurred with delivering; first tarps, then tents, then transitional shelter, then permanent housing. Several organizations have developed a shelter solution that deploys at the same time a tent usually deploys, however; the shelter itself transitions through the various phases of recovery and stays with the recipient. This type of transitional shelter reduces the costs of redeployment and provides security from the very onset of the disaster.

Transitional shelter, in its fullest sense, is a strategy which seeks to support communities back to permanent accommodation, minimising displacement, and taking into account town planning, sanitation, land tenure, human rights, neighbouring populations, the local economy, security, and cultural factors. Refugee camps are considered as one of a range of options, including use of host families, self settlement, and cash donations for building materials.

In the narrower sense, a transitional shelter is a structure in which usually a family can live, with dignity, for as long as their permanent accommodation takes to build or restore. Ideally it will be built from local materials according to local methods, and be adaptable to climate and culture. It will be located adjacent to the destroyed accommodation, and can be disassembled and the materials reused or resold.


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