Housing-Focused Shelters (also sometimes called “Navigation Centers”) help people connect long-term solutions to homelessness and address the barriers that keep them from becoming housed. The goal is to help people exit homelessness as rapidly as possible. Once housed, people can work on the underlying challenges that undermine their stability. Housing-Focused Shelters typically offer:
- Admissions policies that screen-in (not screen out) households, and welcome pets, partners, and possessions.
- Minimal rules and restrictions that focus on safety (e.g., no weapons) and ability for people to come and go, with 24-hour operations. Rule violations that are addressed through case management and behavior modification, rather than termination of assistance.
- Client-centered services tailored to support a household’s ability to exit homelessness (e.g., job training, benefits enrollment), including voluntary, intensive case management geared toward helping clients obtain and maintain permanent housing as quickly as possible through a housing action plan.
- Physical layout and aesthetics that include community spaces, outdoor spaces for pets, storage for possessions, mixed-gender dormitories that allow partners to request beds next to one another, and other design elements that promote a welcoming environment.
- Staff with cultural competencies who treat residents with respect and dignity and caseloads that are kept small enough for staff to spend adequate time with each client.
- Co-location of benefits eligibility workers, health care, Department of Public Health, and other services. Partnerships with programs such as meals-on-wheels can assist with providing food.