Skip to Content

Do Homeless Shelters Do Background Checks or Check for Warrants?

Although it is permitted in the United States, most homeless shelters do not carry out criminal background checks or check for warrants on their workers, volunteers, or residents.

Ideally, homeless shelters in the United States do not look to see if there is an active warrant. However, it is important to note that any homeless shelters that invest time and resources into carrying out background checks will most definitely check for warrants too.

You have to understand that checking for warrants remains a valid part of the background screening process as it works to identify persons who possess outstanding legal troubles or are wanted by law enforcement.

Keep in mind that by checking for warrants, you can further single out individuals with active warrants and ensure they do not stay in the shelter.

If you own a facility that caters to the accommodation needs of the homeless, you understand the importance of not exposing your staff or residents to someone with questionable character.

Aside from the fact that any kind of incident puts your people in danger, also note that it will always come back to undermine your organization’s reputation and mission.

Reasons Why Homeless Shelters Should Do Background Checks

There are numerous reasons why it is important homeless shelters always carry out background checks on employees, volunteers, and residents. Some of those reasons include;

  1. Safety and Security

Even if you intend to run your homeless shelter as a nonprofit, it is important you understand that you still can’t afford to sleep on the safety and security of both your workers and residents.

Background checks have proven to be a viable tool when it comes to ensuring the safety and security of everyone in the shelter.

When you carry out background checks, you can easily identify persons with criminal histories or violent tendencies, and this will in many ways ensure that you can limit the risk of harm to other residents and staff.

  1. Protecting Vulnerable Populations

Homeless shelters more or less serve vulnerable populations like women, children, and individuals with a wide range of needs. As such, you understand the importance of not exposing your residents to someone with questionable character.

Aside from the fact that any kind of incident puts your people in danger, also note that it will always come back to undermine your organization’s reputation and mission.

  1. Maintaining Trust

Homelessness can really be a traumatic and stressful experience that has a negative impact on the person’s physical, mental, and emotional health.

Residents at your homeless shelter might have even had to deal with things like stigma, discrimination, violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and lack of resources.

Note that by carrying out background checks, shelters can go further to buttress their commitment to maintaining a safe and supportive environment.

This will go a long way to cultivate trust among residents and the community, while also convincing those in need to seek assistance.

  1. Legal Compliance

It is imperative to note that some states in the United States mandate homeless shelters to conduct background checks on staff and volunteers to ensure they are in full conformance with safety and security standards.

  1. Preventing Misuse of Resources

Reports have reiterated that substance abuse is the result of the stress of homelessness, instead of the other way around.

You will find that a good percentage of people start using drugs or alcohol as a way of coping with the pressures of homelessness.

As such, carrying out background checks can help prevent persons with a history of fraud or substance abuse from leveraging the resources of the shelter or engaging in illegal activities within the facility.

  1. Quality of Services

People dealing with homelessness are without doubt some of the most vulnerable people in our society and deserve the highest quality of service to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved.

As such, making sure that both employees and volunteers have a clean background will boost the overall quality of services provided in the shelter.

  1. Liability Reduction

There are risks that come with operating a homeless shelter, particularly considering the nature of the service users. These individuals are known to have wider issues that will most often include mental health or addiction challenges.

It simply goes to show that the service users are vulnerable and can also exhibit unpredictable behavior. By carrying out background checks, you can further reduce your shelter’s liability in case an incident happens.