Immigrant Disaster Equity Workgroup

The Immigrant Disaster Equity Workgroup (IDEW) came together in October 2020 to address disaster equity. Shortly after IDEW convened, Harris County Public Health (HCPH) reached out to learn how to reach immigrants with vaccines — so that became our first project. Since we have informed and advocated to Harris County and City of Houston on removing barriers to policies and practices to make services more accessible to immigrants.

It is a diverse group, representing agencies that serve, for example, monolingual Spanish-speaking persons with disabilities, Vietnamese and Chinese communities, Muslim communities, Latine communities living in the East End. With all of the efforts on COVID vaccines, we’ve sidelined that as our primary focus and are now taking the lessons we’ve learned from that experience and seeing what can be applied to disasters more broadly. Our goal is to shape a more equitable disaster response for immigrants in Houston — from a more efficient and effective HILSC network response, to advocacy and collaboration with disaster mitigation professionals and local government.