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Ana Said:

What is it like in a homeless shelter?

We Answered:

1) Different shelters provide differing levels of privacy, depending on available space, need and physical structure of the building. In some cases people are housed in large rooms on cots, in others, people have smaller rooms with just a few room mates. I've never heard of a shelter where each person gets their own room. Please recognize that homeless shelters are terrible places to live. I say this as a person that has worked in them for many years. There’s very little (if any) privacy, lines for everything from dinner to the bathroom, the staff have to look through your belongings every time you come in to make sure no-one has weapons. Some shelters are not safe places to be and in some people will steal from each other. In almost all shelters, you cannot come and go as you please (unlike people who have their own place to live,) meaning that you have to be in by a certain time and have to leave the next morning by a specific time. Many shelters cannot accommodate any specific dietary needs, even when there are medical or religious reasons for those…

2) I'm not sure why it's important to you to separate out those struggling with addiction or mental health issues versus those whose poverty is caused by some other factor. The tie that binds ALL homeless persons is poverty. They don't have a place to live, because they can't afford it.
However, to more directly answer your question, the percentage of homeless persons that experience addiction varies from place to place. Because homelessness is not about addiction, but about poverty, the nature of the homeless population in any particular area is going to be directly influenced by the economic picture in that area. Where housing costs have increased at a much higher rate than income, there would be more (to use your word) “legit” homeless persons, thus decreasing the percentage of those who’s poverty is due to their addiction.

3) Every shelter I have ever worked at or know of has something in place to assist people in ending their homelessness. Most have some form of case management. Many have access to a variety of other resources above and beyond the shelter they provide. Those resources often include mental health counseling, access to appropriate medical care, detox and longer term substance abuse treatment, housing search, money management training, as well as job readiness and search programs.

4) I have worked as a case manager in shelters, I've directed a street outreach program as well as both a "wet" and a "dry" shelter. I currently manage permanent supported housing programs for previously homeless persons.

Annie Said:

Why do we accept refugees with questionable backgrounds, no work history, money and knowledge of the language?

We Answered:

they are following the rules


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