This is an important question with an equally important answer.
There are a large number of reasons that many people in our community go without shelter and very few of them have to do with criminal record or drug use. Here is a partial list of reasons people in our community go without shelter.
People are barred from local shelters for:
- Having disabilities or medical conditions that are too difficult for the shelters to manage
- Having mental health challenges that are too complicated for staff/volunteers to navigate
- Not being able to find a job within two weeks
- Not having an income to be able to participate in the mandatory savings program of 85% of client income
- Being gay or transgendered
- Not being sober
- Missing one mandatory case manager appointment
- Missing one night at the shelter
- Needing to stay for longer than 3 months due to not finding housing, among others
- Couples (married or otherwise) are separated and not allowed to stay together.
- People with service/companion animals are required to show proof which is not in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.
- People do not have an ID card because it was lost, stolen or damaged in the elements.
- Shelters in town have black mold.
- People with dietary restrictions are not provided alternative options for food.
- There are very few female shelter employees in the adult shelters.
- Lack of cultural competency among staff, management and volunteers regarding race, sexual orientation and gender identity, among others.
Please click on the button below to see the recommended best practices for emergency shelter programs as defined by the 100K Homes Campaign. The 100K Homes Campaign is nationally recognized as a leader on drastically reducing homelessness (in some cases up to 85%) in cities and towns all across the country.
Here's a sample of what they have to say about recommended client eligibility requirements for
emergency shelter programs...
The Campaign recommends the following common eligibility and continued stay criteria for emergency
shelter for Single Adults:
- Homeless (HUD Definition)
- Age 18 or older
- Ambulatory and not requiring hospital or nursing home care
- Agree to be nonviolent
- Agree to not use or sell drugs or illegal substances on the premises
- Agree to treat other clients, staff and the property with respect
- Agree to obey fire and other safety regulations
Perhaps just as important are criteria that the campaign recommends that providers NOT include when
- Sobriety and/or commitment to be drug free
- Requirements to take medication if the client has a mental illness
- Participation in religious services or activities
- Participation in drug treatment services (including NA/AA)
- Proof of citizenship
- Referral from the police, hospital or other service provider (as opposed to self-referrals)
- Payment or ability to pay (though saving plans are encouraged)
In addition, the 100K Homes Campaign recommends that emergency shelter attempt to reserve each person’s bed each night for as long as they continue to meet the eligibility criteria for the program. This allows both for a more stable program and for clients and staff to work toward permanent housing placement.
Thanks so much to those that have supported us along the way. We could not have come this far without you. Thanks also to those who have had doubts, questions and concerns. Your voice in this discussion is so important and we cannot progress as a community without opposing dialogue.