[Hpn] Shelter survey report: SHUT OUT... part 3
Coalition on Homelessness, SF
Sun, 24 Sep 2000 16:39:16 -0700
continued from part 2
"The goal is to go out of business. Everyone has a right to housing."
38 year old Pacific Islander male
Respondents were asked what the philosophy of their ideal shelter
would be, and the results of this question were astounding. While
responses around what they liked best about the shelter focused on
survival issues - such as a safe place to get off the streets - in
their ideal shelter, respondents were asking for much more.
"Openness - respect for all and respect for the different places
people are coming from, and move them out of homelessness."
42 year old African American male
"To assist men, women and children of all races to have a safe, clean
place to live until they can find a job and affordable housing."
49 year old African American Male
In fact the number one response, with 158 people, or 44% was that
comprehensive services would be included in the philosophy of the
ideal shelter. This included meeting all the individual and varied
needs any one shelter resident may have - from basics such as food to
job placement, housing, and medication.
The second most common response (78 people or 22%) is that people
wanted a "home-like" atmosphere in the shelter. Homeless people
wanted a supportive, compassionate and understanding staff in a
shelter that created a sense of community - free from the stress of
the streets. There was a common theme in the responses that becoming
and being homeless was deeply traumatizing, and in order for homeless
people to move forward with their lives, they felt the shelter must
be a place to heal and nurture.
Clean and Comprehensive Facilities
The third most common response (73 or 20%) to what the philosophy of
the ideal shelter would be is that people wanted clean and
comprehensive facilities. Responses included comments around
maintaining healthy and clean facilities, and equally important,
adequate facilities. Folks saw having enough clean sheets, towels,
comfortable beds, storage, shower, and laundry facilities as a
baseline philosophy for their ideal shelter.
Right to Shelter
The next most common response (57 or 16%), when we asked people what
the philosophy of the ideal shelter would be, was that everyone has a
right to shelter. Respondents who answered in this category felt that
seeing shelter as a right should be a dominant theme, and as such,
shelters should be accessible to all.
Well trained staff
As in other parts of this survey, people saw staff as an incredibly
crucial component to the success of any shelter. An equal number of
people (57 or 16%) felt that well trained staff with good attitudes
would be a the underlying philosophy of their ideal shelter.
The following is a breakdown of responses to this question:
Philosophy of Ideal Shelter
Comprehensive services 158 44%
Home like atmosphere 78 22%
Clean and comprehensive facilities 73 20%
Everyone has a right to shelter 57 16%
Well trained staff 57 16%
Safe place off the streets 46 13%
Understanding of all cultures 44 12%
More private space 25 7%
Free from weapons and drugs 23 6%
less than 5% had these responses:
Separate space for sub-populations 19 5%
Longer length of stay 12 3%
Flexible rules 12 3%
Help people help themselves 12 3%
Well organized 7 2%
Formerly homeless staff 5 1%
Screening who gets in 3 1%
Smaller shelters 2 1%
Mandatory showers 2 1%
"If there was enough space for everyone, the lottery system could be
40 year old African American male
People were asked how an individual would access their ideal shelter.
Survey responses indicated that people had very strong ideas on how
individuals should access the shelter system. The responses were
varied, and quite diverse, indicating that no one access system would
work for everyone.
The most common response (189 or 48%) was that individuals would just
show up at the shelter in order to access it. For homeless people,
this is the most practical way to access shelter - not only those
with mental health issues, but for others who, because they are
homeless, have a difficult time navigating a complex access process.
Referral based on priority/need
The second most common response (162 or 41%) was referral based on
need. Respondents mentioned populations getting priority such as
disabled, elderly, women with children, youth, medical conditions,
and working people. The idea here is that someone else would decide
based on need.
The third and fourth most common responses was having a lottery -
with a combined 108 individuals requesting some kind of improved
lottery system. Clearly, individuals wanted to see the lottery system
changed to ensure it is equal, fair and simplified. However, these
individuals liked the inherent fairness of having a lottery, if
Central Lottery for whole shelter system
The third most common response was a central lottery to access the
entire system. This would mean one central lottery for all shelters
as opposed to each shelter holding its own individual lottery.
Lottery for Each Shelter
The fourth most common response was for a lottery at each individual
shelter. These individuals wanted the fairness of the lottery, but
wanted to choose which shelter.
Separate shelters for different populations
Another common response was the idea that there would be separate
shelters for sub-populations. Sub-populations mentioned included
people with disabilities, elderly people, people with mental
illnesses, drug users/non-drug users, transgenders, and workers.
This is a list of answers on how people would access the ideal shelter.
Just show up or drop in 189 48%
Referral based on priority/need 162 41%
Central Lottery 66 17%
Lottery for Each Shelter 42 12%
Separate shelters for
different populations 27 7%
less than 5% had these responses:
Centralized intake 19
No favoritism/equal opportunity 19
More shelter space available 18
Transportation provided 12
More street outreach 6
More flexible entrance hours 7
Slide card system 6
Opportunity to choose shelter 1
"Help people live productive lives"
38 year old female
People were asked what kinds of services would be available in an
ideal shelter. People responded with multiple answers to this
question. The clearest explanation of the predominant responses
indicates strongly that homeless people know what they need.
Living Wage Job
Homeless people need living wage jobs (211 or 56%) as well as
services to get them that job, such as help creating resumes, job
listings, training, skills development and job placement and
People would like to have access to medical care (181 or 48%) on site
in the form of either a medical clinic or mobile van. Also mentioned
was having an RN available or on call. This indicates the great
medical needs of homeless people, and their feeling of not getting
sufficient primary care.
People want shelters to provide access to housing (141 or 38%) that
is permanent, low income, and affordable (including people whose
incomes are GA, SSI, SSDI/SSA, or working poor). Respondents felt
housing lists should be available to everyone in the shelters, and
also to people who do not consistently access the shelters - such as
through drop-in services.
Mental Health Treatment
People want access to mental health treatment (130 or 35%). This
included access to psychiatrist, counseling available for people in
emergency crisis, and long term therapy and support. Since people
have different needs for support, a wide variety of help should be
Substance Abuse Treatment
A significant number of individuals felt that access to substance
abuse services (116 or 31%) should be available while they were
staying in the shelters. More services should be available for those
who want treatment including; NA and AA meetings, harm reduction
groups, and access to treatment programs.
Comprehensive Case Management
People wanted case management (106 or 26%) that was comprehensive and
included staff that was empathic, encouraging, and had the ability to
truly listen to what people identified that they needed. Respondents
wanted staff who could work with clients as a team to help them
develop short and long term plans. Many responses indicated that case
management would be client centered and directed; that staff would
play interactive and responsive roles in realizing needs and goals
the client has determined, with the case manager coordinating them.
Referrals to services, as needed, would be made available through
case management. Some felt after care should be available for those
people not on case management. Money management and the ability to
save up money to be used for housing and other necessities to exit
the shelter are helpful.
Living wage Jobs & Training 211 56%
Medical Treatment 181 48%
Housing 141 38%
Mental Health Treatment 130 35%
Substance Abuse Treatment 116 31%
Case Management 106 26%
Hygiene 84 22%
Food/ Nutrition 69 18%
Peer Information Sharing 44 12%
less than 5% had these responses:
Recreational Activities 24 6%
Transportation 22 6%
Spiritual 13 3%
Financial Counseling 12 3%
24 hour staff 11 3%
Telephone 11 3%
Resource Information 10 3%
Legal Assistance 8 2%
Disabled Services 6 2%
Space for Pets 6 2%
Senior Services 4 1%
Child-care 4 1%
Volunteer Programs 3 1%
Bilingual Services 2 1%
After Care 1 0.27%
"We are not animals on display"
38 year old white female
Respondents were asked what the physical environment of their ideal
shelter would be like. The majority of responses reflect a clear
message - they wanted separate spaces and a shelter that is both
comfortable and hygienic.
More and separate spaces
The most common response (261 respondents) to this question was that
shelters should have both more space, and separate spaces for a
variety of uses. This included designating space for people with
special needs. Other spaces requested were quiet spaces, designated
smoking areas, television room, and dining. In addition, it was
requested by some that there be separate spaces for detox, families,
seniors, men and women. Some individuals also requested counseling
offices, lockers and secure storage.
"Women have privacy rights, and freedom from sexual harassment by law."
53 year old women of mixed race
The second most common ideal physical attribute (241 respondents) was
a hygienic shelter. Individuals responded that the shelter should be
clean, and some even felt that there be mandatory showers when
individuals entered the shelter. In addition, some individuals
requested laundry facilities and clean clothes as a way to achieve
this, as well as having enough clean shower and bathroom facilities.
In sum, people want and deserve an environment that is free of
disease and filth.
The third most common response to was that shelters be comfortable.
People felt this would allow for more comfortable sleep and rest.
The following is a full list of the number and percent of responses
to what the physical environment would be like in an ideal shelter.
Separate space 261 68%
Hygienic and clean 241 63%
Comfortable 136 36%
Cheerful Décor 77 20%
Exercise/recreation 25 7%
Library available 22 6%
More beds 22 6%
less than 5% had these responses:
Safe place 13 3%
Sufficient furniture 12 3%
Comprehensive services 12 3%
Better Ventilation 9 2%
Less institutionalized 8 2%
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