Emergency Shelter Learning Series

Training Materials  |  April 25, 2017

Emergency shelters play a critical role when it comes to ending homelessness. Over the years, the emergency shelter system has received little attention. So, the Alliance and its Center for Capacity Building has kicked-off The Emergency Shelter Webinar Series, a six-month installment of webinars and complementary resources and tools dedicated to guiding and supporting communities interested in improving the way they serve those experiencing homelessness and in need of shelter. This multi-faceted campaign is for anyone looking to improve shelter outcomes in their community.

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Download Emergency Shelter infographics »

Follow the Series

1. The Role of Emergency Shelter in the Crisis Response System.

This webinar discusses the role of emergency shelters in a crisis response system. This webinar discusses what data and research tells us about emergency shelter and why people may choose not to access shelter.

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Next step: After watching the webinar, download the Self-Assessments and Action Plans below and fill them out with your team. You can also fill out the Self-Assessment Survey online by taking the survey here.

2. The Keys to Effective Low Barrier Emergency Shelters.

This webinar gives an overview of the Five Keys to Effective Emergency Shelter: using a Housing First approach, safe and appropriate diversion, immediate and low-barrier access to shelter, housing-focused services, and using data to measure performance.

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Next step: After watching the webinar, use our Shelter Outcome Metrics Form to measure and evaluate your shelter’s performance.

3. How to Transition Your Emergency Shelter to a Low-Barrier and Housing-Focused Shelter Model.

This webinar features leaders from three emergency shelters who have made the shift to low-barrier, housing-focused emergency shelter. Panelist address common questions and concerns regarding low barrier shelter, including how to maintain a safe environment, substance use, and helping staff make the shift.

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Next Step: During the next webinar, we will tackle how to re-tool your rules, expectations, and policies and procedures. To prepare, use the 10 Steps to Evaluating Your Shelter Rules. Start by reviewing your policies, procedures, client handbooks and highlight things you want to change that no longer make sense in a low-barrier and housing-focused shelter.

4. Which Rules are the Right Rules for Low-Barrier Emergency Shelters?
Part I: Safely Serving Families and Survivors of Domestic Violence

This webinar focuses on shelters that serve families and survivors of domestic violence and discusses how to re-tool your shelter’s rules, expectations, and policies and procedures in a low-barrier environment that prioritizes safety for participants and staff. Panelists include Alliance staff and two experts from the field sharing their experiences in shifting philosophy and operations to incorporate a low-barrier model.

Next Steps: Our next webinar will continue to look at evaluating rules in your shelter, this time focusing on single adults. If you have not yet done so, gather your staff and take out a copy of your rules, client handbooks, shelter guidelines, and other written materials that communicate expectations to shelter participants. Use the “10 Steps to Evaluating Your Shelter Rules” infographic to decide how to re-tool your rules into expectations that reflect your new vision for a low-barrier and housing-focused shelter. Gather feedback from staff and shelter participants on the implementation of new expectations. Finally, tell us how it goes! We would love to hear your feedback so please email us at with comments and questions.

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5. Which Rules are the Right Rules for Low-Barrier Emergency Shelters?
Part II: Serving Single Adults in Congregate Settings

This installment in the Emergency Shelter Learning Series addresses rules and safety issues for low-barrier shelters that serve single adults. Participants will learn how to re-examine and shift rules to expectations that promote safety.

To see how providers are putting these guidelines into effect, read about one shelter that transformed its 26-page rulebook into just eight pages of health and safety expectations.

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6. Frequently Asked Questions for Low-Barrier Shelters

This webinar answers the toughest and most frequently asked questions from people like you! The Alliance collected questions from the thousands of service providers who tuned into sessions 1–5 and put them to the experts.

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