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Homeless shelter

Homeless shelter

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Homeless shelters are temporary residences for homeless
Homelessness
Homelessness describes the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are unable or unwilling to acquire and maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country...

 people which seek to protect vulnerable populations from the often devastating effects of homelessness
Homelessness
Homelessness describes the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are unable or unwilling to acquire and maintain regular, safe, and adequate housing, or lack "fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence." The legal definition of "homeless" varies from country...

 while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact on the community. They are similar to but distinguishable from various type of emergency shelter
Emergency shelter
Emergency shelters are places for people to live temporarily when they can't live in their previous residence, similar to homeless shelters. The main difference is that an emergency shelter typically specializes in people fleeing a specific type of situation, such as natural or man-made disasters,...

s, which are typically operated for specific circumstances and populations - fleeing natural disasters or abusive social circumstances. Extreme variants of "normal" weather create problems similar to disaster management scenarios, and are handled with warming center
Warming center
A warming center is a short term emergency shelter that operates when temperatures or a combination of precipitation, wind chill, wind and temperature become dangerously inclement. Their paramount purpose is the prevention of death and injury related to exposure to the elements...

s, which typically operate for short duration during adverse weather.

Homeless shelters tend to a "one-size-fits-all" model, but there is frequently a separate shelter system for families and for youth. Both "generic" and the specialized shelters typically expect clients to exit in the morning and occupy themselves elsewhere during the day, returning for an evening meal and to sleep. Curfews vary widely but tend to be at an earlier hour than adults typically might return to a home.

There are also daytime-only homeless shelters, where the homeless can go when they cannot stay inside at their nighttime sleeping shelter during the day. Such an early model of a daytime homeless shelter providing multi-faceted services is Saint Francis House
Saint Francis House (Boston)
Saint Francis House is a nonprofit, nonsectarian, ecumenical daytime shelter, primarily for the homeless, located in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, and founded in the early 1980s...

 in Boston, Massachusetts which was officially founded in 1984. It was based on the settlement house
Settlement movement
The settlement movement was a reformist social movement, beginning in the 1880s and peaking around the 1920s in England and the US, with a goal of getting the rich and poor in society to live more closely together in an interdependent community...

, clubhouse
Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation
The of Psychosocial Rehabilitation is a comprehensive and dynamic program of support and opportunities for people with severe and persistent mental illnesses...

  and community center
Community centre
Community centres or community centers or jumping recreation centers are public locations where members of a community tend to gather for group activities, social support, public information, and other purposes. They may sometimes be open for the whole community or for a specialised group within...

 support and social service models.

In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, due to government funding requirements, most homelessness services fill the role of both daytime and nighttime shelters. Shelters develop empowerment based "wrap around" services in which clients are case managed and supported in their efforts to become self reliant. An example of such a service provider in this area in Australia is Najidah
Najidah (Australia)
Najidah is a nonprofit secular organisation in Australia dedicated to reducing societal tolerance of abuse and the development of safer communities...

.

Operations and Role in Society


Homeless shelters are usually operated by a non-profit agency or a municipal agency, or are associated with a church. They almost always have Section 501(c)3 corporate organization with a Board of Directors pulled from various sectors of the community. Often, such Boards include clergy, elected officials,and even shelter clientele and people from the surrounding community.

Homeless shelters often provide other services to the community at large. The classic example is the soup kitchen
Soup kitchen
A soup kitchen, a bread line, or a meal center is a place where food is offered to the hungry for free or at a reasonably low price. Frequently located in lower-income neighborhoods, they are often staffed by volunteer organizations, such as church groups or community groups...

 for persons who are not staying at the shelter. Others include support group
Support group
In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually nonprofessional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic...

s, and/or substance abuse
Substance abuse
A substance-related disorder is an umbrella term used to describe several different conditions associated with several different substances .A substance related disorder is a condition in which an individual uses or abuses a...

 treatment. If they do not offer any of these services, they can usually refer their clients to agencies that do. Supportive housing
Supportive housing
Supportive housing is a combination of housing and services intended as a cost-effective way to help people live more stable, productive lives...

 integrates services in a more assertive fashion. The typical pathway through the interlocking system is that a person may start in a shelter and move through transitional housing into supportive housing
Supportive housing
Supportive housing is a combination of housing and services intended as a cost-effective way to help people live more stable, productive lives...

 and finally independent housing.

Centers in the United States are also often coordinated with outside programs both for their mission-specific operations and for ancillary services. For communication of their availability, most coordinate with the Federally mandated 2-1-1 or the 3-1-1 phone information system which allow needy persons to find out where shelters are located. For transportation to shelters, some offer free transportation,[15] particularly in cases of persons being released from jail. Some jails have specific staff assigned to placement of persons being released.

Empowerment Model


Some shelters propose "empowerment models", where instead of serving "clients", they empower "participants". The goal is to become agents in their own futures and destinies.

Such models tend to focus on assisting participants to access their rights and to fulfill their responsibilities as citizens. Sometimes this includes contributing financially towards the provision of the shelters they are residing in. In Australia, legislation requires those residing in Government funded shelters to contribute a figure similar to 25% of their own income, in return for support and accommodation. Consequently, many shelters in Australia rely on participant contributions for as much as 20% of their budgets.

A Catholic Worker Model


Another interesting model is Dorothy's Place in Salinas, CA. It is actually a day center which coordinates with multiple church and synagogue congregations to link up to night time shelter opportunities. Dorothy's Place is closely affiliated with various faith based community service groups. Among these is the Franciscan Worker and Companions of the Way Interfaith Dharma community. They propose that they are in search of "possibilitarians", a theme resonating with the prominent ministry of "possibility thinking" promoted by Reformed Church of America minister Reverend Robert Schuller.

Controversy


The NIMBY
NIMBY
NIMBY or Nimby is an acronym for the phrase "not in my back yard". The term is used pejoratively to describe opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development close to them. Opposing residents themselves are sometimes called Nimbies...

 is seldom more in evidence than with regard to homeless shelters. Yet, the community attitude towards homeless shelters varies widely. In communities such as Portland, Oregon, where the weather can be quite harsh, there is an extensive network of supporters. These operate an informal restaurant, the "Sisters of the Road" cafe, which supports both homeless shelter clientele and also some unsheltered persons. At the opposite end of the spectrum, jurisdictions such as Santa Barbara, California, feature ongoing disputes in an often highly adversarial mode. Disputes have even reached such schemes as re-arranging benches on city sidewalks to discourage panhandlers. In another 2011 incident, an eight unit supportive housing
Supportive housing
Supportive housing is a combination of housing and services intended as a cost-effective way to help people live more stable, productive lives...

 project which had been approved was called back onto city council agenda the following week in order to allow approximately 35 public comments pro and con, despite the fact that the measure had just been approved.

There have at times been concerns raised about the transmission of diseases in the homeless population housed in shelters, although public health professionals contend that such concerns are inflated. A question has been raised as to just how much money donated to the charities that run the shelters actually gets to the homeless person and the needed services. In many cases, there is a large overhead in administrative costs, which compromise the money for their homeless clients.

Internal problems in homeless shelters


There is sometimes corruption and theft by the employees of a shelter as evidenced by a 2011 investigative report by FOX 25 TV
WFXT
WFXT is a television station owned and operated by the News Corporation-owned Fox Broadcasting Company, located in Boston, Massachusetts. The station's studio and office facility is in Dedham, Massachusetts, and its transmitter is located in Needham, Massachusetts...

 in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 wherein a number of Boston public shelter employees were found stealing large amounts of food over a period of time from the shelter's kitchen for their private use and catering.

See also

  • Family Emergency Shelter Coalition
    Family Emergency Shelter Coalition
    The Family Emergency Shelter Coalition is a non-profit organization in Hayward, California which aims to provide shelter, transitional housing and support services for families and children....

  • Four penny coffin
    Four penny coffin
    The four penny coffin is a Victorian term that described one of the first homeless shelters to be created for the people of central London. It was operated by the Salvation Army during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide comfort and aid to its destitute clients.The Salvation Army...

  • Horizon House
    Horizon House
    The Horizon House is a daytime-only homeless shelter in downtown Indianapolis. It is organized as non-profit, with no religious affiliation....

  • Old Brewery Mission
    Old Brewery Mission
    The Old Brewery Mission is a homeless shelter located in Montreal. It is the largest shelter for men in the province of Quebec, and the largest homeless shelter for women in Canada. It is also the largest private homeless shelter in Canada, and the second largest shelter overall. The Old Brewery...

  • Penny sit-up
    Penny sit-up
    The penny sit-up was a Victorian era term to describe one of the first homeless shelters to be created for the people of Blackfriars, in central London. It was operated by the Salvation Army during the late 19th century and early 20th century in order to provide comfort and support to its destitute...

  • Seaton House
    Seaton House
    Seaton House is the largest homeless shelter in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located at 339 George Street near Dundas Street East, several blocks from Yonge Street. The facility provides temporary lodging, food, clothing, medical care, for single men and also attempts to provide tools for...

  • Warming center
    Warming center
    A warming center is a short term emergency shelter that operates when temperatures or a combination of precipitation, wind chill, wind and temperature become dangerously inclement. Their paramount purpose is the prevention of death and injury related to exposure to the elements...

  • Hopelink
    Hopelink
    Hopelink is a nonprofit agency that serves north and east King County, Washington with food banks, energy assistance, housing, an employment program, transportation and adult education....


Sources

Cf. entry and article on Shelters by Kim Hopper, pp. 498–503.Companions of the Way Fourteen Points inspiring Dorothy's Place.

Further reading