Date of Award

Summer 8-2016

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography and Geology

Committee Chair

Bandana Kar

Committee Chair Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 2

David Cochran

Committee Member 2 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 3

George Raber

Committee Member 3 Department

Geography and Geology

Committee Member 4

Bret Blackmon

Committee Member 4 Department

Social Work


While extensive research has been conducted on vulnerability and resilience with regard to hazards, very few studies have researched the resilience of homeless populations. The Gulf Coast region is densely populated and susceptible to natural and anthropogenic hazards. Climate change studies indicate that this region will experience an increase in severe and intense tropical cyclones[1], thereby increasing the risk of experiencing adverse impacts from future coastal hazards. While local government agencies in this region have policies in place to protect communities, these policies tend to exclude any action regarding the evacuation and safety of the homeless population.

In this study, a mixed-methods approach along with spatial analysis and modeling was used to analyze social and physical capital of homeless populations residing in the coastal counties of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, and their resilience to disasters. Social networks were analyzed through a gravity model and physical networks were analyzed through closest facility and location-allocation modeling to determine the proximity of homeless individuals to emergency assistance locations and identify potential locations for additional assistance centers. Findings reveal the majority of the homeless live within one kilometer from assistance, and a small portion of the population lives within close proximity to their social capital. Results also show physical capital (e.g., money to evacuate and cell phone access) and social capital (e.g., friends and acquaintances willing to assist financially and live out-of-state) has a large impact on resilience.

[1] National Climate Assessment (NCA) (2014). Climate change impacts in the United States. Retrieved from: pdf?download=1