Skip to Content
Short-Term Shelter
11/22/2019 3:49:29 PM
Original Release
Last Major Release
A Short-Term Shelter is in an existing facility (or facilities), such as a school, community center, convention center, or church temporarily converted to provide safe, accessible, and secure short- term housing for disaster survivors
Resource Category
Mass Care Services
Primary Core Capability
Mass Care Services
Secondary Core Capability
Resource Kind
Overall Function
A Short-Term Shelter: 1. Provides for the short-term needs of disaster survivors, typically for up to two weeks 2. Provides a safe and accessible location for life-sustaining support, such as: a. Dormitory b. Feeding c. Hydration d. Basic medical care e. Sanitation 3. Provides a range of essential resident services, depending on the needs of disaster survivors and the resources available to the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ): a. Support for people with access and functional needs b. Health and mental behavioral health services c. Family reunification assistance d. Childcare e. Service animal and household pet care f. Distribution of life sustaining, comfort, and other essential supplies g. Laundry h. Access to transportation i. Disaster recovery related information and services
Composition and Ordering Specifications
1. The AHJ estimates the shelter resident capacity required and determines the facility accessibility requirements to support people with disabilities, access and functional support needs, and those with service and assistance animals 2. Facility planning considerations include the maximum number of shelter residents expected; proximity to the displaced population’s homes, schools, and jobs; and the status of the utility and transportation infrastructure. a. The facility should be a safe, accessible, and secure structure not at risk from the disaster 3. A Short-Term Shelter maintains a variety of staffing, equipment, and material resources; Refer to the Sheltering Guidance Aid and Staffing Matrix on the National Mass Care Strategy (NMCS) website for sample staffing ratios 4. For equipment and material ordering guidance, refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Commonly Used Sheltering Items & Services Listing (CUSI-SL)
Supporting Core Capabilities
Component Notes  
Shelter Population Per FacilityRefer to the NMSC Mega-Shelter Planning Guide for additional guidance on NIMS Type 1 and NIMS Type 2 shelters
Component Types
Type Attribute
Type 12,000 or more
Type 2500 – 1,999
Type 3250 – 499
Type 4249 or fewer
Area Per Facility1. Calculate dormitory requirements for Short-Term Shelters using an average of 40-60 sq. ft. per shelter resident. Americans with Disability Act (ADA)-related reasonable accommodation requirements may necessitate additional dormitory space for shelter residents with disabilities, access and functional needs, and those with service and assistance animals, usually estimated at up to 100 sq. ft. per person. 2. Other shelter activity and support areas may need additional space. 3. A potential shelter site may meet the general space and access needs, but may need supplemental sanitation and other capabilities, such as toilets, showers, and hand-washing stations.
Component Types
Type Attribute
Type 1Over 140,000 sq. ft.
Type 235,000 – 140,000 sq. ft.
Type 317,500 – 35,000 sq. ft.
Type 4Under 17,500 square feet (sq. ft.)
FEMA, NIMS 509: Access and Functional Needs Advisor
FEMA, NIMS 509: Fixed Site Security Team Supervisor
FEMA, NIMS 508: Public Health and Medical Team in a Shelter
FEMA, NIMS 508: Shelter Facility Selection Team
FEMA, NIMS 509: Shelter Facilities Support Team Leader
FEMA, NIMS 509: Shelter Manager
FEMA, NIMS 508: Shelter Management Team
FEMA, NIMS 509: Shelter Resident Services Team Leader
FEMA, National Incident Management System (NIMS), October 2017
FEMA, Commonly Used Sheltering Items and Services Listing, August 2011
FEMA, Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Services in General Population Shelters, November 2010
International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM)/American Red Cross, Mega-Shelter Planning Guide, October 2010
National Mass Care Council, Shelter Guidance Aid and Shelter Staffing Matrix, October 2010
National Mass Care Council, Multi-Agency Sheltering/Sheltering Support Planning Template, October 2014
US Department of Justice, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Checklist for Emergency Shelters, July 2007
US Department of Justice, Guidance on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, September 2010