Shelters, street outreach, and other crisis services are the front line of any community’s response to homelessness. They can help people meet basic survival needs like shelter, food, clothing, and personal hygiene. But homelessness is only truly ended for people when they obtain and maintain stable housing. This requires communities to shift from a set of services that simply ameliorate the immediate crisis of homelessness to a crisis response system that can help prevent and resolve it by connecting people swiftly to permanent housing opportunities.
We believe that an effective crisis response:
- Identifies all people experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness across the community
- Prevents homelessness whenever possible
- Provides immediate access through coordinated entry to shelter and crisis services without barriers to entry, as stable housing and supports are being secured
- Quickly connects people who experience homelessness to housing assistance and/or services tailored to the unique strengths and needs of households and which enable them to achieve and maintain permanent housing. Services may include access to school or early childhood care and learning, public benefit programs, employment services, reunification services, and/or health care, including substance use and mental health services. For survivors fleeing domestic violence, specialized shelters and services should also be available.