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Summary of Shelter Standards as Proposed by the Homeless Congress

This is a one page summary (Click here for Full Proposal).

I. General Shelter Regulations as Overseen by the County

All the shelters shall be operated by a charity and shall develop a plan on a strategy to go out of business.  The County shall have an oversight committee to monitor the shelters, and shall maintain 24 hour access to shelters as well as a harm reduction model for serving chemically addicted individuals.  The shelters should treat residents with respect, meet with them, and shall have a minimum number of shower/toilet facilities available. Shelters should provide access to laundry, transportation, and assistance in obtaining identification.  All deaths within the shelter should be reviewed by the County Medical Examiner and a report presented to County government. All shelters shall abide by the Fair Housing regulations.  Law enforcement should not be part of the distribution of services offered to homeless people in their emergency housing.  The County shall have a disaster plan for the shelters as well as an approved safety plan.  Each shelter must have written policies and procedures that is approved by the County and displayed for all the residents regarding such areas as medication, infectious disease and distribution of mail. 

II. Shelter Intake and Discharge

Shelters shall not discriminate based on age, and shall maintain privacy of the residents.  The residents should not be required to wait outside during inclement weather.  Shelter staff shall not discharge to the streets, and shall communicate with the residents in their primary language. Shelters should not require identification in exchange for a bed. 

III. Shelter Grievances and Complaints

Every shelter must have a grievance procedure in place that allows an impartial entity to handle grievances. Larger shelters shall have a person designated as a client advocate.  This individual could be shared by a number of shelters in the community.  Every resident is entitled to a written discharge with a copy of the grievance procedure on the back of the document.  A report on grievances shall be delivered to the Office of Homeless Services every year by every shelter.

IV. Minimum Operating Procedures Provided to Individuals and Families

All shelters shall serve a balanced meal, and provide a secure location for a resident’s belongings.  Residents shall have access to a voice message system, a nurse, a computer lab, and counselors.  Each shelter should work on a housing plan for each resident, and assist with establishing a savings plan for each resident.  The resident shall be offered clean linen and a hygiene kit as well as referrals to life skills, CPR classes, and treatment.  Every shelter shall have a posted or distributed bus pass policy, and shall have the ability for second and third shift workers to sleep. 

V. Shelter Services to Special Populations

Shelters shall have personal hygiene items for women if they serve women.  Shelters should have rules posted for when they call Adult Protective Services and the County child abuse hotlines.  Shelter staff should make every effort to get a child back into school within 24 hours of entry to the shelter.  Staff working at the shelter should communicate with the Cleveland Public Schools when a school aged child is enrolled.  The shelters should have special rules for disabled young people under the care of a guardian. 

VI. Training and Security at the Shelters

All shelter staff shall have sensitivity training and conflict resolution.  All staff must wear some identification, and must be informed of the requirements under the American Disabilities Act.  Residents shall be offered job training that could help them move into housing.  Every shelter must construct a safety plan and have that plan confirmed by government and homeless people at least once per year.