- Guides and Training Manuals
Date Published: March 2023
The following four-part guide, Emerging Practices to Enhance Safety at Congregate Shelter, offers guidance and resources that demonstrate ways to create safer, more accessible, and inclusive congregate shelters. It combines practices from shelters across the country that have successfully supported safer operational environments.
This guide has been informed by research and best practices from a sample of urban, rural, and suburban shelter facilities throughout the country. It is strongly encouraged that all shelter providers review their operational practices to ensure they are supporting safe and accessible shelter for everyone based on the practices highlighted in this guide. In many communities, this will require staff training and changes so staff are equipped to address the emotional and physical needs of participants.
In order to end homelessness, it is necessary to provide agencies and staff with the skills and knowledge to support families and individuals. Homeless system design planning will benefit from an approach that centers equity. Shelter residents can more easily access programs when shelters provide participants with low barrier environments, trauma-informed approaches, shared agreements aimed at building community, and rules and procedures that reduce harm exposure for all.
This four-part guide presents the foundational elements of congregate shelter safety for staff and guests, regardless of size or mission. It highlights procedural enhancements, practice improvements, and structural recommendations that work in concert to enhance safety for organizations providing shelter. This guide is intended for congregate shelter facilities that provide individuals or families with beds and access to communal areas such as kitchen/eating, living, and bathroom areas.