Resilience Hubs: Shifting Power to Communities and Increasing Community Capacity

This report describes an initiative of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) to encourage the creation of resilience hubs, which are defined as community-serving facilities meant to both support residents and coordinate resource distribution and services before, during or after a natural hazard event. While these are primarily meant to address vulnerability and risk, this report explains how resilience hubs can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support social equity. The report draws on lessons from Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland, two cities that are actively exploring the resilience hub concept. 

The paper defines the key components of resilience hubs, including:

  • Hubs are meant to be in well-trusted and well-utilized community facilities and should serve the needs of the community more broadly than temporary emergency shelters do.
  • Community-based organization and leaders should be involved in developing resilience hubs from the beginning and should manage the resilience hubs once they are established.
  • Site considerations might include accessibility, physical safety (is it in the floodplain?), and the potential for on-site solar.
  • The hub should be resourced to meet the needs of the community during an extreme event, meaning it must maintain food, water, and emergency supplies.
  • Hubs should be able to remain operational during an extended power outage, ideally relying on multiple types of energy generation such as solar and storage. 
  • Hubs should also serve as community centers where residents can access information, social support services, and other community resources. 

The paper emphasizes that hubs should play a role in shifting power from government to residents and community-based organizations.  Therefore, it is essential that community members and community-based organizations drive the design, site-selection, and management of resilience hubs. Community partners might include faith-based groups, advocacy groups, social service providers, and educators. Ideally, resilience hubs will be built collaboratively with local government partners so that they can leverage the expertise and capacity of local agencies ranging from emergency management, housing, health, and transportation. Private partners can also provide additional supports such as funding and job training resources. 

In 2018 USDN will publish additional resources aimed at organizations and local governments interested in exploring resilience hubs, including a business plan, case studies on resilience hubs, and an assessment of solar and storage options for resilience hubs. 

Publication Date: March 28, 2018

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  • Policy analysis/recommendations
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