Assessment and Emergency Shelter Placement

All of the clients the Coalition serves are currently homeless, living in the streets or living in an emergency or transitional shelter. Those entering the Coalition’s transitional housing program must first be established in an emergency shelter under the auspices of the Coalition’s case management services. The organization has no homelessness prevention program; depending instead on other organizations to offer financial assistance with issues such as rent arrears and utility shut-offs.

The Coalition provides an inclusive intake process for the homeless of the Northern Panhandle. We screen clients at intake to determine what emergency shelter is appropriate and which community resources will best suit the client’s immediate needs. The assessment process is critical to client success as it sets the stage for building the therapeutic relationship and provides the initial opportunity in developing a process for ending the homeless situation.

Through the assessment process the Coalition and the client develop a written action plan for resolving the issues that are generating the housing crisis, as well as identifying the more in-depth individual issues that may create another episode of homelessness. Since an emergency shelter stay, by virtue of regulations, cannot exceed six months, an aggressive series of support services are enacted during that time including treatment for health issues; development of job skills; an employment search; volunteering to build self esteem; development of a housing plan; and development of applications for benefit programs.

According to recent reports, 60% of the homeless who report having a mental health issue are also chronically homeless, meaning they have a disability, may have been homeless for more than one year, or have had repetitive episodes of homelessness.

Emergency shelters have strict stipulations regarding sobriety and often are not equipped, due to their dormitory setting, to offer privacy for a client who is experiencing serious psychological symptoms. Often, clients who are actively abusing substances or are experiencing psychosis or psychosocial difficulties are evicted from shelters for noncompliance.