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Risk to resilience: Enhancing climate readiness for a LGBTQ+ health center

ICF supported Callen-Lorde in their application for FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), enabling the organization to protect its Community Health Center in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood against the impacts of natural hazards.

>$3.4 million
in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funding

Located in a high-wind risk area of Manhattan, the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center has endured years of wind and inclement weather—exposing it to vulnerabilities that impact its ability to maintain continuity of operations and maintain vital refrigerated medicines and vaccinations for its patients. The outreach, awareness, and education about hazard mitigation assistance funding opportunities provided by ICF were essential in supporting Callen-Lorde’s resilience. These efforts underscore our commitment to integrating equity into our work.


Since its earliest days more than 50 years ago, Callen-Lorde has been transforming lives in New York City’s LGBTQ+ community, offering services free of judgment and regardless of the ability to pay. In the fiscal year of 2022-2023 alone, it provided numerous healthcare programs and services, recording more than 102,000 visits from over 18,000 patients. Its Community Health Center based in Chelsea also features a dental clinic, a care coordination program, and an onsite pharmacy. This pharmacy maintains a significant volume of temperature-sensitive vaccines and medications.

New York City is extremely vulnerable to flood and wind damage, as evidenced by Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Ida, and other recent severe storms. Consequently, the Community Health Center made mitigating damage to infrastructure and preventing power loss its critical priorities. Hazard events have exposed multiple structural vulnerabilities in the center, constructed in 1900, threatening its ability to continue providing essential services.

In 2019, the Community Health Center installed measures to mitigate risks from natural hazards, including high-speed winds and wind-driven rain and debris. These measures initially prevented wind-driven water from entering the health center during severe storms. However, by 2021, Callen-Lorde determined that these temporary solutions were not adequately protective for extreme events in a risk context exacerbated by climate change.


FEMA is focused on supporting organizations like Callen-Lorde that provide critical services for marginalized communities and pursue missions that support equity and inclusion. FEMA’s 2022-2026 Strategic Plan situates equity front and center with its first goal: “Instill Equity as a Foundation of Emergency Management.” This project directly supports this goal as it will allow Callen-Lorde the needed protection to continue serving its community, even during an extreme storm event.

Callen-Lorde was eligible to apply for a specific investment under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), in response to the COVID-19 major disaster declaration for New York State. In 2022, ICF worked closely with Callen-Lorde to develop its grant application, utilizing engineers and technical experts to develop a plan and project for mitigating wind and wind-driven debris.

The grant application included the preparation of a benefit-cost analysis (BCA), a project schedule, a cost estimate, and an extensive narrative providing a value proposition for mitigating this risk to the clinic. These documents outlined how the proposed structural improvement to the building envelope and emergency power installation would help reduce wind risk. Furthermore, the BCA featured a social vulnerability analysis to quantitatively demonstrate how the project’s benefits could significantly aid marginalized populations.


By bringing in external expertise and connecting Callen-Lorde to a funding source, ICF was able to ensure a successful application under the COVID-19 Major Disaster Declaration for the project. On October 25, 2023, Callen-Lorde was notified of its HMGP grant award for this project, with a 90% federal cost share totaling more than $3.4 million.

“Callen-Lorde didn’t have prior experience in applying for FEMA funds, and ICF was so helpful in navigating the complex process. They were highly organized and had a wealth of knowledge and experience, which resulted in a successful application! We continue to be grateful for ICF’s guidance and support–and consider them instrumental to our success in obtaining this crucial funding.”

Annie O’Hara - Director of Special Projects at Callen-Lorde

The outcome of Callen-Lorde’s application was especially meaningful for our team. Institutions like Callen-Lorde are at the forefront of providing critical services and promoting equitable outcomes for historically marginalized populations but do not always have the resources to secure access to federal funds. Building on ICF's long history of work with FEMA and a strong culture focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), we were able to assist Callen-Lorde in accessing the funding needed to retrofit its Community Health Center, thereby reducing the risk of future losses.

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