Housing and Shelter

While individuals and families living in homelessness have many needs that must be met, the most critical are housing and shelter. 

Housing has a pervasive impact on nearly all aspects of a person’s life.  If housing is adequate, it affords both physical and emotional privacy; offers opportunities to create a positive sense of self and empowerment; and provides stability and security.  Housing can be either permanent or transitional.  When residents reach the time limits built into transitional housing, they are expected to "graduate" to more independent, "normal" housing settings. Thus transitional housing is a stage in a progression, while permanent housing entails no assumptions about personal growth and development. An additional factor that sometimes distinguishes transitional from permanent housing is tenancy rights. For transitional residents, tenure is usually contingent on participation in services and compliance with program rules, whereas permanent tenants usually hold leases and have full tenancy rights. 

Emergency shelter programs provide short-term housing on a first-come, first-served basis where clients must leave in the morning and have no guaranteed bed for the next night.  Some emergency shelters may provide beds for a specified period of time, regardless of whether or not clients leave the building. Emergency shelters are intended to remove individuals from the imminent danger of being on the street.  Although emergency shelter services are critical to meeting the immediate needs of homeless people, they do not provide people with permanent housing (Cunningham, 2009), which is the primary goal.



Resources Cited

Retrieved on January 18, 2012, from: http://www.hhs.gov/homeless/

Retrieved on January 18, 2012, from: http://www.huduser.org/portal/publications/homeless/homelessness/contents.html

Cunningham, Mary. 2009. Preventing and Ending Homelessness – Next Steps. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute.

Rosenheck R. (2000). Cost-effectiveness of services for mentally Ill homeless people: the application of research to policy and practice. American Journal of Psychiatry, 157(10):1563–1570.doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.157.10.1563.

Additional Resources

Urban Institute Metropolitan Housing & Communities Policy Center, http://www.urban.org/housing/index.cfm

National Alliance to End Homelessness: http://www.endhomelessness.org/