How Do You Get Into a Homeless Shelter


Title: How Do You Get Into a Homeless Shelter?


Homelessness can occur due to a variety of circumstances, leaving individuals and families without a stable roof over their heads. Homeless shelters serve as a crucial lifeline, providing temporary accommodation, support, and resources to those in need. In this article, we will explore the process of accessing a homeless shelter, shedding light on the steps involved and addressing frequently asked questions.

I. Understanding Homeless Shelters:

Homeless shelters are facilities designed to provide temporary accommodation and support services for individuals or families experiencing homelessness. They offer a safe haven, meals, and assistance in securing stable housing. While policies and guidelines may vary between different shelters, the general process of gaining entry remains similar.

II. How to Get into a Homeless Shelter:

1. Research Local Shelters:
Begin by researching shelters in your area. Online directories, local helplines, or community outreach programs can provide information on the available options. Take note of their location, contact details, and any specific criteria they may have.

2. Contact the Shelter:
Reach out to the shelter either by phone or in person during their designated intake hours. Intake hours vary, so ensure you are aware of the specific times. Inform the staff about your situation and inquire about their availability and admission requirements.

3. Provide Identification and Documentation:
Most shelters require identification and documentation to verify your identity and eligibility. These may include a photo ID, proof of income or benefits, proof of homelessness (such as an eviction notice), and any medical records or prescriptions.

See also  Cities Where It Is Illegal to Feed the Homeless

4. Attend an Intake Interview:
Once you have made contact, the shelter will typically schedule an intake interview. During this interview, staff members will assess your needs, circumstances, and any specific accommodations required. Honesty is crucial during this process, as it helps the shelter staff understand your situation and provide appropriate support.

5. Comply with Rules and Regulations:
Each shelter operates under specific rules and regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of all residents. It is essential to familiarize yourself with these guidelines and agree to abide by them. Rules may include curfews, limitations on personal belongings, substance abuse policies, and participation in case management or support programs.

6. Wait for Placement:
In some cases, shelters may have limited space and a waiting list. While waiting, explore other temporary housing options, such as emergency accommodation programs or friends and family who may be able to provide temporary shelter. Keep in regular contact with the shelter for updates on your status.


Q1: Are homeless shelters only for individuals or can families also seek shelter?
A: Homeless shelters cater to both individuals and families. Depending on the shelter, there may be separate facilities for men, women, and families.

Q2: Can I bring my pets to a homeless shelter?
A: Policies regarding pets vary between shelters. Some shelters may have designated pet-friendly spaces, while others may work with local animal welfare organizations to provide temporary care for pets.

Q3: Do I have to pay to stay in a homeless shelter?
A: While shelters primarily operate on funding and donations, they generally do not charge individuals or families for their stay. However, it is essential to inquire about any potential costs or requirements associated with specific shelters.

See also  Places to Go When Homeless

Q4: How long can I stay in a homeless shelter?
A: The duration of stay in a homeless shelter varies based on individual circumstances, shelter policies, and availability. Some shelters may have time limits, while others provide more extended stays, especially for individuals actively working towards securing permanent housing.

Q5: What support services are offered in homeless shelters?
A: Homeless shelters often provide various support services, including case management, counseling, job assistance, healthcare referrals, and connections to community resources. These services aim to help individuals address the underlying causes of homelessness and work towards self-sufficiency.


Navigating the process of accessing a homeless shelter can be overwhelming for those experiencing homelessness. By understanding the steps involved, individuals and families can effectively seek assistance and find temporary respite. Remember to reach out to local resources, follow shelter guidelines, and remain proactive in your search for permanent housing. Homeless shelters serve as a crucial step towards rebuilding lives and regaining stability.