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Types of Homeless Shelters

Updated on October 2, 2011

Homeless shelters are pretty much self-explanatory. If you get evicted, or you lose your housing some other way, and you might have to find a homeless shelter until you can get yourself together.

Before you decide to go this route, you should first look at your finances to determine whether or not you can afford a weekly hotel (extended stay). The idea might sound ridiculous to some people, but many homeless people have jobs, they just cannot find affordable housing.

Homeless shelters are a last resort, but if you do not have a choice, you will, at the very least, need to know some of the most basic information.

Generally, there are three types of shelters:

  • Emergency Shelters
  • Day Shelters
  • Family Shelter

Emergency Shelters

This is what usually comes to mind when people first begin to think about homeless shelters: random bunk beds, early morning wake-up calls, and soup kitchens.

An emergency shelter will usually house you without any type of lengthy intake process, but they are not designed for long lengths of stay; and they usually require you to gather your things and clear out at the first light of day.

If you are in need of housing, an emergency shelter is not typically the first place you want to end up; try to exhaust all other options first.

Emergency Shelters
Emergency Shelters

Day Shelters

Day shelters are just what they sound like, shelters that house people who are homeless in the daytime hours. Day Shelters come in where emergency shelters or "night shelters" leave off.

Day shelters provide the tools necessary for you to start building your way back to self-sufficiency if you should become homeless. They usually offer showers, toiletries, soup kitchens, telephone banks, and a mailing address.

People always ask: how can homeless people get a job if they do not have a way to be contacted or keep themselves clean? Day Shelters exist to provide the answer to that question.

If you find yourself in the position of being temporarily homeless, and you have not secured a permanent place to stay, utilize the services of a day shelter to help get you back on your feet.

Day Shelter
Day Shelter

Family Shelter

It should come as no surprise to anyone that family shelters are shelters that houseā€¦ families. More often than not, family shelters provide more of a long-term housing situation.

A typical family shelter will often provide a single room for each family, but sometimes families will have to share quarters with other families or live dormitory style until a unit becomes available.

There are usually self-sufficiency programs in place for family shelters. You can expect to find: child care, or child care referrals, case management, job training resources and referrals, etc.

You will normally be given a specific length of time at which you can reside in a family shelter, try to use your time wisely and take advantage of all the self-sufficiency tools they provide so that you can get your family into a permanent living situation, preferably a transitional housing program, because they will help you build a stronger foundation for a stable life.

*If you find yourself in the situation of not being able to avoid homelessness, you should read a group of short articles by a young woman who was homeless for a year. Her name is Kylyssa, and one of her most helpful articles/lenses (produced on a cite called Squidoo - on Squidoo, articles are called lenses) is called What to Buy if You are Homeless.

Family Shelters
Family Shelters


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    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      It has to be horrible to live in a shelter. I have heard that shelter that have a wing for women and their children are a little better.


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