Emergency Winter Housing Guide

Homelessness is very difficult but even more so during the dangerous winter months. If you find yourself homeless, there are emergency shelters available for you to stay in.

Unfortunately, millions of Americans suffer from homelessness. The loss of a job, poor health, natural disasters or just being down on hard times can often leave people homeless and in search of shelter during the cold winter months. Homelessness is irrespective of age, therefore you’ll find homeless people of all ages.  Sadly, even the elderly and and young children make up a large part of the homeless populace.  The level of poverty and brutality that many of the homeless suffer through is unconscionable.

If you’re homeless or on the brink of homelessness, this guide can help you.

More Than Just A Shelter

When you’re suffering in one part of your life, it can have a reverberating, trickle down effect on every other aspect of your life. What you really need is a place that goes beyond simply being a “homeless shelter”.  There are many emergency shelters that provide other resources to help you put your life on track again spiritually, emotionally, financially, socially and physically. You can usually find these resources and options available to you at emergency homeless shelters. At these shelters one might also find community support. You’ll be provided clothing to keep you warm in the cold season. You can also find weekly or daily food in soup kitchens.

Some shelters even provide disaster relief, job training, utility assistance, rehabilitation and government assistance. Human trafficking and domestic abuse are also connected to homelessness so shelters with good funding can serve as a safe place for those individuals lacking a stable home environment.

Considering a lot of these shelters are established through faith based organizations, you can also expect for their to be some form of addiction and religious counseling as a provision for residency at the shelter.

Don’t Expect to Just walk In

These facilities generally don’t have the space required to house every homeless person, even on the coldest of nights. These shelters cut off shelter admission once bed spaces have been filled up.  You also have to adhere to the shelters curfew times so as not to loose your bed. The peak season when shelters are needed most is usually at the beginning of December up through the end of March. Thousands of homeless people still live under bridges and in public places, however – many still seek shelter when there’s no more room, only to be forcefully chased away by authorities.

During these “busy seasons”, it can be quite difficult to find a place to take shelter especially if you are a father with children, since provisions are not typically made for them. LGBT youth are also at a considerable risk of exploitation because they can be thrown out of their homes and suffer mistreatment among other homeless people.

These homeless shelters are also not permanent stays so you will be given limited time to stay there during which you should plan out your next move to better your life.

Immediate Needs

Shelters are generally established by non-profit organizations in collaboration with church and/or government bodies. Though the environment might not be up to standards, shelters try and provide some of life’s most basic needs and they’re certainly preferable than submitting oneself to harsh weather conditions. The rules and regulations for such places can be thorough like:

  • The staff at these shelters assume you need emotional emotional support to better your current situation
  • You must follow appointed check in hours
  • Attending counseling and or Christian sessions may* be required
  • Lights may be turned off too early or left on all night for security
  • The meals are not to get full, but to keep you alive
  • You might have to store personal belongings away from the living space
  • Showers are required
  • You might receive bedding, toiletries and towels
  • You have to adhere to proper codes of conduct

Where Can I Find A Shelter?

You can find a wealth of information about shelter locations online. You can access the internet from many public libraries to begin your search. The Homeless Shelter Directory, Volunteers of America and Salvation Army are good places to begin with.

Despite the gallant efforts of different private and public entities, the problem of homelessness has not yet been rectified. It’s because of the efforts of volunteers and private donors that emergency shelters for millions of homeless Americans are provided during harsh winter months.  Homeless shelters are not meant to be permanent solutions to temporary problems.  They’re only meant to help give you a leg up to get your life moving forward.