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Can a Homeless Shelter Be Near a School?

Truth be told, the regulations that cover how close homeless shelters can be to schools in the United States tend to vary from one state to another, and sometimes from city to city.

In the United States, local zoning laws and regulations will more or less have a say on whether a homeless shelter can be anywhere near a school.

As such, when looking to build or operate a homeless shelter in the United States, it is important to reach out to the relevant local authorities or zoning department to ensure you have the right details regarding the specific rules in that specific area.

Pros and Cons of a Homeless Shelter Near a School

There are pros and cons that come with siting or opening a homeless shelter near a school in the United States. They include;


1. Accessibility for Families in Need

This is indeed a valid advantage to consider especially if the shelter will be providing accommodation to homeless families.

Note that being close to a school make it easier for residents to enroll their wards in the school while also ensuring that they have a roof over their head while their children attend school.

2. Community Awareness and Involvement

Building a homeless shelter close to a school will work to raise awareness about homelessness and encourage community involvement in the issue of homelessness.

3. Educational Opportunities

Also note that a homeless shelter being close to a school might provide easier access to educational resources while also offering support services for homeless children.


1. Safety Concerns

There are numerous security concerns that come with having a homeless shelter close to a school.  Note that most parents and community members will be quick to state their reservations or concerns regarding having a homeless shelter close to a school, especially considering the risks it poses to young students.

2. Stigma and Perception

In addition, there could be a negative perception from some community members, especially since it is believed that shelters always have a negative impact on property values and create stigma around the school and neighborhood.

This is one of the primary reasons why proposals to build a homeless shelter tend to encounter opposition from community members.

3. Distraction for Students

Note that the presence of a homeless shelter could also prove to be a distraction for students, and this will in many ways sway their focus on academics and could lead to disruptions in the learning environment.

Regulations and Restrictions to Keep in Mind When Siting a Homeless Shelter

  1. Zoning Laws

Just as was noted above, local zoning ordinances play a very cognizant part in the sort of structures and land use permitted in precise locations.

As such, it is recommended that you reach out to the local planning or zoning department to make sure you have the information necessary to pick a location that aligns with these laws.

  1. Proximity to Schools and Public Facilities

A good number of states and cities will have restrictions when it comes to how close homeless shelters can be to schools, parks, as well as other public facilities.

As such, it is important you know these restrictions and ensure you maintain a safe distance especially since these regulations are in place to address concerns that have to do with the well-being of children and the overall community.

  1. Building Codes and Safety Standards

Keep in mind that conforming with building codes works to guarantee the safety and functionality of the shelter. Also don’t forget that fire safety, accessibility, as well as other building regulations are vital considerations. You can contact your local building departments to garner the right information on specific requirements.

  1. Health and Sanitation Standards

Keep in mind that every homeless shelter has to comply with certain health and sanitation standards, and this is meant to safeguard the well-being of residents while also avoiding or limiting the spread of diseases. Health department regulations feature vital topics like waste disposal, hygiene facilities, as well as general cleanliness.

  1. Parking and Transportation Access

Take your time to evaluate the availability of parking and transportation options for both shelter residents and staff. Always remember that adequate parking and convenient access to public transportation will work in the favor of your shelter.

  1. Environmental Impact

It is important you make sure that you are in line with environmental laws to minimize any negative impact on the ecosystem.

  1. Legal Permits and Approvals

There are also licenses and authorizations needed to start and operate a homeless shelter anywhere in the United States. As such, it is important you obtain all requisite permits and approvals from local authorities.

In most places, this will include special use permits, conditional use permits, or variances depending on the zoning requirements as well as the precise conditions of the location.