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Updated: Dec 30, 2021

TAMPA, Florida - Homelessness remains a persistent problem in American culture. Despite more than two decades of federal effort, statewide planning, and municipal initiatives, an estimated 1.6 million unaccompanied minors and family members use homeless shelters or transitional housing in a single year.

On one night in late January 2007, around 672,000 homeless persons were tallied in towns across the United States, with roughly 58 percent sheltered and 42 percent unsheltered.

Individuals accounted for 63% of the total, while families accounted for 37%.

Approximately 18% of the entire homeless population at the time met the U.S.

Chronic homelessness is defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD 2008).

The structural causes that contribute to homelessness' persistence, as well as the diversity of the homeless population, resist easy remedies.

Before we will go deeper to our main topic let us explore first what are some aspects that deters access to shelters?

What really deters access to shelters?

With one notable exception, homeless persons suffer the same challenges to accessing benefits and services as other low-income people.

When it comes to services such as health and mental health, a lack of capacity all too frequently sets a ceiling on the number of people who may be serviced in a community.

Homeless persons are typically placed at the back of the line because agencies want to assist those who are easier for their employees to comprehend and deal with and benefits should be made available to everyone who satisfies the qualifying conditions in principle.

For instance,

  • difficulties filling out application forms due to a lack of proof of identity and other documentation;

  • lack of a mobile and forwarding address;

  • some transportation problems;

  • an increased probability of declining health, physiological or mental health disability, addiction problems, or previous convictions;

  • competing priorities such as food and other basic necessities; and

  • lack of social support.

The Bazelon Center identified obstacles that could easily affect homeless people with or without disabilities in a study describing barriers to public services faced by people with learning disorders, including;

  • negative reactions from staff;

  • misunderstanding of the emergence or location of services;

  • complexity sitting for long periods in waiting rooms or keeping consultations; and

  • lack of assistance in completing ambiguity, complicated applications.

Returning veterans, newly released jail and prison convicts, and those recently released from mental institutes, drug abuse treatment centers, and other institutions confront unique challenges in finding homes and accessing mainstream services.

Individuals with prior criminal charges, for example, are denied access to some federal housing assistance, and people are discharged from mental hospitals far too frequently without permanent homes.

Other challenges encountered usually involve contemporary providers' perceptions of inadequate funds, a lack of expertise operating with homeless individuals, an insufficient resource for mainstream initiatives to serve homeless people, as well as a lack of responsibility, as evidenced by the fact that few large programs are required to report the housing status.

Furthermore, homeless service providers, who may be able to help, may be unfamiliar with the range of services that may be available to their clients, as well as the eligibility requirements and often complex application processes required to access traditional benefits.

For families, the possible engagement of many systems in fulfilling their own and their children's needs for example, schools, health and behavioral health, child welfare, and social services frequently necessitates coordination and integration that many communities lack.

There are lots of factors which really hinders their access to shelters however, we as an individual can also provide simple ways to support their needs.

The above mentioned barriers was able to categorized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development namely;

Structural barriers

When resources are accessible and a person is qualified for them, but different barriers hinder the person from receiving the benefits, they come into consideration.

They might be about where standard programs are situated, how they are structured, or what candidates are required to do.

Barriers include:

  • remote or inconvenient mainstream agency locations, as well as limited days and hours of operation;

  • the sometimes negative atmosphere of the application office, the way staff treats applicants, stigma, and other environmental factors;

  • the complexity and length of benefit applications, which place important cognitive requirements.

The problem of access for structural obstacles is not related to the program's core eligibility standards and capabilities, but rather to its execution and structure.

Structural obstacles offer the best chance of boosting access to mainstream benefits without having to deal with the arduous chores of modifying eligibility criteria or generating income.

They are more politically acceptable as a result of these factors, and they have the potential for informal, timely solutions.

However, structural obstacles might be the most widespread, restricting, and concealed restrictions that a community faces.

Capacity barriers

Are those that arise when available resources are insufficient to satisfy the needs of all persons who are eligible for a benefit or service.

People receive the benefit or service for as long as the money lasts because funding is constrained, or capped.

Rent subsidies, whether federal, state, or municipal, are frequently subsidized in this way, as are mental health and drug misuse services and treatment.

Alternatively, in certain areas, the advantage may not exist at all.

Eligibility barriers

Are those determined by program rules that specify who is eligible for a benefit and who is not.

Those who encompass household category, confirmation of other benefits, age which are 65 or older entitles an individual for Health care, disability which need be with a certain severity and frequency to qualify for supplemental security income, and criminal history (housing and urban development) denies housing subsidies to people with a drug-related felony.

The government alone could not really combat these homelessness issues, though there plenty of voluntary organizations already done their part to support the mission of their national government.

Eligibility requirements for important programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and supplemental security income are enshrined in federal law.

Because such constraints are difficult to change at the local level, we discovered few examples of mechanisms for improving the access that accomplished in revising or extending eligibility requirements, as indicated by the small number of relevant mechanisms found in the study communities.

Each one of us also has the power to slowly mitigate these problems maybe we can do some simple acts to the following ways to support their shelter needs.

What are some actions we should do to provide homeless shelter needs?

There is no big neither small actions to fill in their basic needs as long as it wrapped with your sincerity to help and that would create a big impact to their lives.

Here are some few ways to do support their access to temporary or permanent shelter.

Create lists of resources

Call all of the homeless-serving agencies in your area and inquire about the things they require on a regular basis.

Make a list of each organization, including its address, phone number, and a contact person's name.

Then send these names to community organizations who might be able to assist with donations, such as religious centers and children's organizations like Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.

Offer financial assistance

Giving money is one of the most straightforward ways to help the homeless. Donations to homeless-serving charity groups go a long way.

Teach your children about the homeless

Assist them in seeing the homeless as individuals.

Take your kids and daughters along if you volunteer so they may meet homeless individuals and see what can be done to aid them.

As a family, volunteer at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter.

Suggest that they pick through their old toys, books, and clothes and donate them to charitable groups that help the underprivileged.

Offer your professional service

If you think that your professional service will greatly help them though it entails much effort and time but the reward to change each hopeless lives are priceless.

Respect every homeless individuals

Treat the homeless with the same politeness and respect you should your acquaintances, relatives, and coworkers.

Treat them the way you'd like to be treated if you needed help.

Be knowledgeable enough who is homeless

Assist in dispelling prejudices about homeless people.

Learn about the many causes of homelessness and keep in mind that each scenario is different.

One of the first stages in assisting others is to recognize them as individuals and determine what they require.

Take notice of them and engage in conversation with them.

The majority of people are desperate for attention.

Show kindness

You will never go wrong with this simple actions because we really do not know what specifically they are going through.

Through your kindness it is their door to know that they are worthy of their existence regardless of what status they are in.

Donate for their basic needs

Basic as it may seem but this will provide comfort and ease to their day to day living.

If you have any clothing items which you never used at all, your damped clothes might become someone else favorite item.

Volunteer at domestic abuse victims shelter

Most battered women are involved in relationships with abusive husbands or other family members.

Many victims of domestic violence may have little choice but to seek refuge or live on the streets once they leave their homes due to a lack of resources and a fear of being discovered by their abusers.

Volunteers answer the phone at the shelter, pick up battered women and their children who call, keep the house, and provide therapy.

To explore how you can help, contact your local abused women's shelter.

Help the homeless apply for aid

Homeless persons are eligible for government assistance, but many don't know where to look for it or even how to register.

Government authorities may be unable to contact them because they lack a postal address.

You may assist the homeless by pointing them to mediators, such as homeless groups, who will inform them of accessible aid and assist them in applying for it.

You can also contact these groups if you wish to be an advocate or middleman for the homeless.

Disseminate accommodation relevant data

Despite our best spreading awareness about shelters, many people are unaware of their very own local options.

Inquire with your local newspapers, church or synagogue publications, or municipal organization newsletters about publishing a weekly or monthly directory of local homeless services.

This might contain the specific requirements of each group in terms of volunteers, food, and other gifts.

Increasing homelessness people's access to proper services and benefits could be as simple as establishing a connection between a support worker in one agency and a social worker in another, or as complicated as making big changes in many organizations' rules and procedures at the same time.

If a homeless individual has a basic requirement, such as a security deposit, one service will be able to meet it without the need for coordination with another.

Now, let us study these basic strategies to effectively provide accessible to homeless shelters.


Communication, coordination, collaboration, and coordinated community response are four degrees of contact that may be used to describe how programs and organizations interact to meet the needs of individual clients and groups of people.

  1. Communication. When people from various agencies communicate with each other and share information in an excellent, helpful manner, the degree of communication occurs. This is the primary and most crucial step toward developing practical solutions to Homelessness. Participants must be informed about what their colleagues in other organizations do, the resources available to them, and the sorts of services they may provide through communication. Frontline personnel, for example, a mental health worker and a housing developer, may communicate with middle-level staff and agency leadership. It may happen in two systems, three systems, and so on, all the way up to all the systems in a community. In many places, the stakeholders that need to collaborate to build a coordinated strategy to eradicate Homelessness haven't even gotten to this point. Everyone functions in isolation, engaging in negative encounters that do not enhance awareness, support, or prevention options for homeless persons. Even though people know each other and serve on the same committees and task forces, they may not communicate well enough to comprehend each other's role in eradicating Homelessness. This second scenario is common in most communities: individuals know one other but haven't taken the time to listen to and hear each other.

  2. Coordination. Coordination can also refer to the integration of services. Multi-agency teams that assist obtain appropriate resources for particular individuals and multi-service centers where a homeless person may connect with many different organizations. Still, no overall case coordination are instances of coordination. However, no substantial changes in each agency's services or business practices have happened at this time. Coordination does not imply fundamental changes in a partner agency's suitability, methods, or priorities. It simply means they agree not to get in each other's way and provide the services they have when appropriate, even if it means going to new places or using new mechanisms like a multi-agency team. It does not necessitate a significant reconsideration of the agency's aims or practices.

  3. Collaboration. Based on communication and coordination, collaboration adds the aspect of shared analysis, planning, and accommodation toward the end of systems integration. A joint effort to define common goals is followed by protocols for each agency that allows each agency to conduct its job in a way that complements and supports the work of the others. Collaboration can occur between two or more agencies or systems, and it almost always involves some level of system change. Collaboration is impossible without the support of those in positions of authority. It varies from communication and coordination in this regard. The collaboration will not occur until agency leadership is on board, supporting and enforcing adherence to new policies and practices. Because collaboration comprises organizational responsibilities and personal ones, when persons who have formed emotional bonds across agencies leave their jobs, others will be appointed to fill the void. They will be given the same task of pursuing a coordinated response and will be shown what instruction and orientation are required.

  4. Coordinated community response. With the long-term objective of eradicating Homelessness, the degree of coordinated community response grows beyond collaboration between two or three organizations to include all the agencies concerned in a Community partnership. This is about system transformation and integration, which goes beyond collaboration in several ways. It can provide integrated services as it involves all the necessary agencies, which for this research means that key obstacles to service access are addressed and decreased or abolished. It has a functional feedback mechanism, such as a scheduled meeting to address inefficiencies and create adequate intervention strategies or smooth bureaucratic pathways, and perhaps a systematic framework for wanting to think about just what comes next, wanting to know what needs to be done, how to achieve it best and, ultimately, what needs to change to achieve the goals. Whether or not we have experienced Homelessness, it influences all of us. It's a matter of public health. Homeless people often have to do their own business outside because they do not have their own homes or the social standing to use bathrooms in companies or other public locations. They lack access to health care and frequently suffer from chronic diseases, exacerbated by difficult living situations such as sleeping outside in all weather, eating inexpensive starchy meals, and living in close quarters with other unwell individuals at social service organizations. Homelessness is a financial issue. People who do not have a place to live are heavy users of public services and cost the community money rather than bringing it in. Homelessness is terrible for business. Homelessness is an issue that is not impossible to strategize some solutions. In 2000, the National Alliance to End Homelessness (a rights advocacy group) and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD) collaborated on creating the National Alliance to complete the homeless. Both groups thought that there was no such thing as a one-size-fits-all plan and that each town was unique, with a unique demographic. All communities had to meet the requirements to make their own decisions and develop their strategy.

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