Homeless shelters come in various forms but with the aim of catering to different populations and needs. When we talk about the different types of homeless shelters, we will categorize them based on factors such as the length of stay, the target population, and the services offered.
Note that these are general categories and individual shelters have the right to incorporate multiple types of shelters to address the diverse needs of homeless people in their communities.
Some Common Types of Homeless Shelters
An emergency shelter is a place for people to live temporarily when they cannot live in their previous residence. The emergency shelter must provide protection from the elements, space to live and store belongings, privacy, and emotional security. Blankets, mats, and tarpaulin must be provided as needed.
Basically, an emergency shelter provides short-term accommodation for individuals or families experiencing homelessness. Emergency shelters are often open 24/7 and may offer basic services such as food, showers, and a place to sleep.
Unlike emergency shelters, transitional shelters are designed to provide longer-term housing, typically for a few months, while residents work on stabilizing their lives and finding more permanent housing solutions.
Note that transitional shelter is any of a range of shelter options that help people affected by conflict or natural disasters, who have lost or abandoned their housing until they can return to or recover acceptable permanent accommodation.
Transitional shelters are known to often include support services such as counseling, job training, and life skills development.
The fact that some people may be homeless during winter gives room for social workers and charity organizations to temporarily set up a homeless shelter that can take care of such needs. The essence of this type of shelter is to provide emergency shelter from harsh weather conditions.
Veteran shelters are shelters that are specifically dedicated to homeless veterans, and homeless veterans are persons who have served in the armed forces who are homeless or living without access to secure and appropriate accommodation.
Generally, veteran shelters focus on long-term assistance, with most veterans staying between six months to a year or longer.
Youth shelters as the name implies are homeless shelters that are specifically designed for homeless or at-risk youth. Youth shelters basically provide a safe space for teenagers and young adults, and such shelters usually offer support services tailored to their unique needs.
The Youth Shelter is a safe haven for teens who are runaways, homeless, or in danger of becoming homeless. Many of the youth who come to the Youth Shelter have experienced high levels of family conflict, domestic violence, or sexual abuse.
A family shelter is a safe place where families who are homeless can stay temporarily. It provides a roof over their heads, food, and other services like counseling and medical care. It is a place where families can feel protected and secure while they work towards finding a permanent home.
Wet shelters allow individuals with substance abuse issues to access shelter services even if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and in most cases, offer them a supervised space to use or consume them.
This is because the focus of wet shelters is not to cure alcoholic people or drug addicts but to provide a safe space for them. Most individuals with substance abuse issues are usually not admitted to traditional homeless shelters.
Domestic Violence Shelters
Domestic violence shelters are safe places where domestic violence and abuse victims can get help and temporary housing.
Because many domestic violence victims are threatened with homelessness, shelters for domestic abuse victims are critical. They provide a safe and secure environment, often with specialized support services for survivors of domestic abuse.
For safety reasons, the majority of domestic violence shelters do not have their locations listed. This is to prevent abusers from finding the survivors and potentially harassing them.
Low-Barrier Emergency Shelters
The National Alliance to End Homelessness defines a low-barrier emergency shelter as “immediate and easy access to shelter by lowering barriers to entry and staying open 24/7; eliminate sobriety and income requirements and other policies that make it difficult to enter a shelter.
Low-barrier emergency shelters have minimal entry requirements, making them more accessible to individuals with substance abuse issues, mental health challenges, or those who may not meet the criteria for traditional shelters.
10. Single Adult Shelters
Single adult shelter is a homeless shelter that caters specifically to single adults who are experiencing homelessness. Single adult shelters offer meals, 24/7 security, and on-site comprehensive services including case management, housing assistance, creative arts therapy, and medical and psychiatric services.
Residents have access to a trauma-informed workforce that develops an individualized service plan to meet their immediate needs, and partners with the residents to find the most appropriate permanent housing setting as quickly as possible.