Shelter Standards

Shelter Standards

The Chattanooga Homeless Coalition believes that all persons regardless of income and status in life have a basic right to adequate and safe housing. As a temporary measure, the Homeless Coalition is committed to assuring that each homeless person has access to emergency shelter(s) that are clean; meet basic human needs; are safe; and assure personal dignity and self-respect. Our intent is to facilitate the development of shelter(s) to meet the needs of homeless persons – single men, single women, women and/or men with children, etc. In addition, shelter(s) need to be available that can meet the special needs of persons with physical and mental illness, drug and alcohol problems, HIV/AIDS, or who are the victims of domestic violence.

For purposes of these Standards and Guidelines, Homeless means an individual or family that lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. A person is homeless if he/she lives:

  • In a place not meant for human habitation; this means: streets, cars, abandoned buildings, parks, bus station, etc..
  • Emergency shelter, transitional or supportive housing (for people coming from the streets or shelter)
  • In any of these above places, but is in a hospital/institution short-term (30 days or less)
  • Evicted within a week from private dwelling or discharged within a week from an institution where they stayed long-term (31 days or more)…and housing is not provided as part of discharge planning…and no subsequent residence has been identified, and no resources and support networks to obtain housing.

These Standards and Guidelines are specifically directed to address the needs of homeless that reside in temporary or emergency shelters.

An emergency shelter provides short-term (usually less than thirty days) residence for individuals and/or families. It operates year round or is seasonal (i.e. during the winter months.) and is guided by concepts of “hospitality and/or mission.” Fees are either minimal or non-existent. A temporary shelter provides very short-term residence (usually a few days to a week) for homeless individuals and/or families for specific weather or disaster related periods. Temporary shelters usually do not request a fee. Normally neither emergency nor temporary shelters provide a “transitional program” but often refer residents to transitional programs or permanent housing arrangements.

Required Standards for Temporary or Emergency Shelters

1. All shelters operate under community auspice and must provide for appropriate accountability of its resources and services. Each shelter shall operate under the governance of a governmental unit, a non-profit agency, or a church. Policy and operating procedures shall be vested in a Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, or governing body accountable to the public.
2. Each shelter shall determine and have a written admission policy with regard to characteristics of its service population (i.e. men only, women only, women with children, couples, intact families, persons with special needs, men only, etc.)  Shelters will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or sexual preference, except as provided for in the above policy.
3. Shelters may establish written expectations of residents – behavioral, medical, religious, etc. Expectations of residents will be available to each resident at entry to shelter, and to the public (on request).
4. The shelter shall post, read or otherwise make known to each resident the rules, regulations and procedures of the shelter. They will also be notified the rights and responsibilities of the resident.
5. Each shelter will establish a written policy concerning confidentiality of resident information.
6. Each shelter will have a written policy concerning any illegal activity that occurs (or allegedly occurs) on the premise. (Physical abuse, drug use, child abuse, etc.). This policy shall include reporting procedures and the completion and maintenance of incident reports.
7. Each shelter shall have a written “emergency” policy and procedure that is posted in the facility for ready access by staff and/or residents. This will include emergency and evacuation procedures. All staff and/or volunteers will have access to a telephone.
8. Each shelter shall have a written policy with regard to fees charged.
9. Shelters will provide or make known the resources for the provision of food services for its residents and shall take into consideration the special nutritional needs of residents.
10. Shelters shall have infection control policies in accordance with guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control covering but not necessarily limited to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and tuberculosis.
11. Shelters shall have sufficiently trained staff (either paid or volunteer) on-site and available to residents during all hours in which residents occupy the premises.
12. The shelter shall provide a bed, mat or crib for each resident. Clean linens shall be available to each resident and provisions shall be made for the sanitizing of all linens and sleeping surfaces.
13. Shelters shall provide (or make written provision for) clean, adequate, and private bathing facilities for its residents.
14. Shelters will maintain a written plan for the recruitment, training, and retention of all employees and/or volunteers in accordance with program requirements and applicable law.
15. Each shelter shall be properly zoned and licensed where applicable. The shelter will comply with all applicable housing, building, plumbing, electrical, and fire codes.
16. Each shelter shall maintain a Policy and Procedure Manual that will include (but not necessarily be limited to) the above policies, a description of the shelter’s purpose, population served, and program description.
17. Each shelter shall be clean and in good repair.

Additional Required Standards for Emergency Shelters
(Not Required for Temporary Shelters)

1. Emergency shelters shall have written internal fiscal control policies and procedures that have been approved by its Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, or governing body accountable to the public.
2. Emergency shelters shall operate in accordance with all applicable sections of the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Code of General Ordinances and all applicable laws of the State of Tennessee.
3. Emergency shelters will have a written plan for evaluating the quality and effectiveness of its services. A written evaluation shall be conducted, in accordance with this plan every two years.
4. Shelters providing food service to its residents (or the residents of other shelters) shall have appropriate health department permits, where applicable.
5. Each shelter shall have reasonable access to transportation services.

Recommended Standards for Temporary and Emergency Shelters

1. For purposes of admission, each shelter will identify specific “time(s) of admission”. “After hours” admission policies and procedures may be established to provide for extenuating circumstances.
2. The Board of Directors, Advisory Board, or governing body will meet at least twice each year for the purpose of reviewing shelter program, policy and operating procedures.
3. The shelter shall train (or make arrangements for the training of) staff in emergency first aid and CPR.
4. The shelter will provide information on each resident including but not limited to the following: name, sex, race, and social security number.
5. The shelter will provide secure accommodations for residents to store personal belongings during their stay.
6. The shelter”s books and fiscal records will be audited or reviewed annually.
7. Staff training will include the following
     a. Basic shelter operation
b. Fire and emergency evacuation   procedures
c. Infection control policy and procedures
d. Agency operating procedures
e. Non-violent crisis intervention techniques
f. First aid
g. CPR
h. Emergency procedures for medical/psychiatric crises
i. Policy and Procedure for handling resident medications
8. Facilities and programs shall be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Special Note: To assist member agencies, the Homeless Coalition will develop guidelines and training programs for implementation of a number of the above Standards.