In the wake of large Hurricanes such as Sandy and Katrina, US cities are acutely aware that organizations that work at the neighborhood level will be on the front line of meeting the needs residents in the hours, days and weeks after a major event. Therefore it is essential that cities work to enhance their capacity to meet the needs of their existing constituency and be able to participate in a spontaneous neighborhood wide effort to provide care and support to all residents.
San Francisco’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network has been piloting a program that supports communities as they work to achieve a pre-event condition that will allow them to perform at the highest level in times of stress. Entitled the Empowered Communities Program (ECP), the initiative is modeled after the core tenets of FEMA’s Whole Community Approach.
San Francisco piloted the ECP in the Fall of 2012 in partnership with the Diamond Heights community to engage in a comprehensive cross sector effort to increase the neighborhood’s overall resilience. The lead NEN agencies providing the community technical support were SF CARD and the City Administrator’s Office.
The framework of this effort has now been converted into a scalable framework and is being deployed in other high risk communities across the City.