Guide to Different Types of Homeless Shelters

October 14, 2022

Shelters for the homeless are available in many shapes and sizes, each serving a different purpose, targeting a specific demographic, etc. Anyone can be affected by homelessness, and extreme circumstances can leave people homeless temporarily. There are a variety of shelters with different purposes and mission goals to help these individuals stuck in such difficult circumstances. It can be challenging to understand the function and purpose of each homeless shelter, so we have a compiled list of the most common types of shelters. 

Emergency Shelters

The most common type of homeless shelter is emergency shelters; these exist since sometimes people lose their homes suddenly and unexpectedly. For whatever reason, be it a natural disaster or experiencing a dangerous home life, emergency shelters provide quick safety and comfort for those in need. We at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada have our own Emergency Night Shelter for Men, which is open every night of the year. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada’s emergency shelter for men offers  400 beds to able-bodied men who are ambulatory, lucid, coherent, and able to care for themselves completely and may need temporary shelter. Emergency shelters are also very commonly seen in situations of disasters

where a large number of people seek refuge. Life can be unpredictable, so emergency shelters are here if you or any loved ones find yourself in immediate need of a safe place to go.

Women’s Shelters 

Women’s shelters are their own subgenre of emergency shelters since they are commonly known as domestic violence shelters. While the intention is these are shelters for women and their children to have a safe place to stay, a lot of women’s shelters offer assistance for women who have experienced violent situations. These shelters offer counseling services that can help women identify an abusive relationship or assist with trauma or other mental health issues. This service is specific to women but there are also shelters that focus on safety for men who experience violent situations as well.

Youth Shelters

Youth shelters are to help redirect young people’s lives and have social workers or counselors to help them with education and with their self-sufficiency. These shelters are dedicated to helping young people in need in order to establish a better foundation for success for a better life. Youth shelters are different from family shelters since it focuses on young adults who may need to separate from their own families or have no family whatever the circumstance may be. 

Family Shelters

The focus of family shelters is to keep families from being separated.  While some women’s centers seem like family shelters, the main difference is men are not permitted in women's shelters, whereas family shelters allow all genders. These centers help families who need refuge from whatever their situation may be and provide them with a way to stay with one another. There are also services to assist families with finding permanent housing, like our Housing Navigation Center which assigns a case manager to those individuals who need to look for affordable housing.

Wet Shelters

These shelters allow people under the influence of alcohol to have a place to stay since most emergency shelters do not allow individuals who may be inebriated from alcohol or narcotics. The goal of these shelters is to get the intoxicated homeless off the street and allow them to have a safe place to sober up. The individuals in wet shelters are not required to get treatment or counseling since they are not in rehabilitation centers. Having wet shelters is important to try and lower crime rates and keep inebriated homeless safe from themselves and others.

Transitional Housing

Since emergency shelters only provide temporary overnight housing, transitional housing exists for people who may need longer housing while finding permanent housing. These types of services also have assistance programs to help individuals gain employment or whatever is needed to have access to permanent housing as soon as possible. These shelters typically allow residents for up to 6 to 24 months depending on their rules and regulations. 

Permanent Supportive Housing

These programs give employed individuals a private living space for a certain percentage of their income rather than a specific set of monthly rent. Some permanent supportive housing programs offer on-site social services such as rehabilitation counseling, health care referrals, job training, and educational classes to those individual cases that might need assistance. This is not technically a shelter but does offer a better permanent alternative to those who may be struggling to afford their own housing. This option also is different from transitional housing since there the individuals are not expected to leave after a certain period of time. Permanent Supportive Housing is a good program for individuals who may have disabilities that hinder them from working a job or who may be in debt from medical issues.

It can be hard to find a shelter that fits and meets the level of care you or someone you know may need, but being knowledgeable about the different types of shelters is important to understand what is available out there. Research on your local shelters can help you understand the different programs available to assist those in need in your own neighborhood. Additionally, donations and volunteering at these different types of shelters will always be appreciated, so it is important to be mindful of what types of shelters are near you. Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada is here to help people who are facing difficulty finding permanent housing, you can help out today by donating to our Permanent Supportive Housing Initiative program, or by contacting us to find out more about how you can get involved.

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