Interested in starting a housing program?

For those interested in meeting the housing needs of those experiencing homelessness:

What types of shelters are available for people experiencing homelessness?
In our community, interim housing for those experiencing homelessness falls into the following categories
1) emergency shelters
2) transitional housing
3) permanent supportive housing
4) permanent housing
Each of these categories provides a certain level of housing and services. Below is a detailed definition for each.

What is "emergency shelter"?
For most families who become homeless, research has shown that homelessness is a short-term, one-time experience. To meet their short-term needs, emergency shelters serve our community by providing temporary housing and services designed to help homeless individuals and families transition into permanent housing. Since we know that most families and individuals only need shelter for a short-time while they get back on their feet, our community has made a priority of moving people out of emergency shelter as quickly as possible. The term is known as rapid re-housing or housing first.

In our community, emergency shelters are generally the first stop for those seeking shelter and one can usually stay for no longer than 90 days. Each shelter establishes its own criteria for who can stay and for how long.

If you or someone you know is in immediate need for shelter, contact Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) Central Intake so that they can be assessed and placed in the most appropriate shelter environment. Single adults seeking shelter should call 648-4177 or go by the Conrad Center located at 1400 Oliver Way. Families seeking shelter should call 291-9083 or go by St. Paul’s Baptist Church South Campus located at 700 E. Belt Blvd.

What is "transitional housing"?
Transitional housing programs assist people who are ready to move beyond emergency shelter but need additional supportive services to move out of homelessness. These programs are often the bridge for those wishing to move into permanent housing. Transitional programs allow individuals and families who need services to further develop the stability, confidence, and coping skills needed to sustain permanent housing. Some transitional program participants live in apartment-style quarters, while others may be in group settings where several families or individuals share a household.

Most individuals participating in transitional programs are limited to 24 months of housing. While living in transitional shelters, individuals and families may receive case management, financial literacy training, parenting classes, substance abuse treatment and recovery services, employment assistance, housing counseling, and referrals to other organizations that provide services that can help them move towards housing stability. Clients are expected to participate in certain activities as a condition of their living arrangement and usually work with a case manager who will assist with developing a plan for housing permanency.

What is "permanent supportive housing"?
Permanent Supportive Housing programs provide permanent housing for homeless persons with physical and/or mental health disabilities or those with chronic problems with alcohol, drugs, or both, or have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and related diseases. The approach is designed to provide a structure that counteracts the disruptions of both homelessness and disability. This type of supportive housing enables special needs populations to live as independently as possible in a permanent setting. This housing often meets the long-term needs of people with mental illness or with physical disabilities. While many formerly homeless people remain in permanent supportive housing for many years, some people are able to successfully transition into private, market-rate housing.

What is "permanent" housing?
The goal of our local homeless service system is to help individuals and families find housing that is safe, stable and meets their long-term needs. This is permanent housing. Permanent housing can be both subsidized and unsubsidized, and for almost all individuals and families experiencing homelessness, it will be the best option to meet their long-term housing needs.

How do emergency and transitional housing fit into our community?
As a community, our goal is to establish additional permanent housing to help those experiencing chronic homelessness get into stable housing immediately. Research has shown that housing stability is beneficial for those experiencing chronic homelessness, mental illness, physical disabilities, and/or substance abuse. Additionally, our community’s plan to end homelessness calls for rapidly re-housing individuals and families as soon as they become homeless. This shift would result in decreased reliance on emergency shelters and transitional housing and increase emphasis permanently housing individuals immediately. To achieve this, clients, case managers, and others will have to partner with landlords to develop housing agreements that allow clients to gradual take on the housing responsibilities on their own without the support of local support agencies.

I am interested in starting a transitional program in our community. Is it possible to get government funding?
Homeward is the regional coordinating agency for homelessness in the area and is tasked with leading the HUD Continuum of Care funding process for local shelter providers. If your organization is considering applying for HUD funds and is new to the process, you should become familiar with the documents referenced on the CoC page of this website. Please note that HUD is moving away from funding transitional programs and is most interested in funding permanent housing projects. Additionally, you should contact existing local service providers to better understand where your organization fits into the local network.

Do I have to start a shelter to make a difference?
Starting a shelter is hard work. It requires funding, skilled staff, zoning and special use permits, cooperation with local government and non-profits, and clients. For many people, these barriers will be extremely difficult to overcome. Nonetheless, there are things that you can do to help those experiencing homelessness gain housing stability.

  • Specifically you can provide on-going support to those who have left shelter and are in permanent housing. This is sometimes known as aftercare.
  • Be a landlord: Since good affordable housing is hard to find, consider being a landlord for those who need housing. This may mean developing low-cost rental units or renting properties that you or your organization may own at an affordable cost.

What else should I know?
If you have decided you would like to be a shelter provider, please make sure you complete the following checklist.

  • Legally organize your non-profit organization - Contact the State Corporation Commission for more information.
  • Attend a Homeward Solution Provider Training - Check our Solution Provider Training page for training dates.
  • Sign-up for the Continuum of Care email list to learn about our community's response to homelessness.
  • Visit Dept. of Housing and Community Development website to learn about Virginia's services and programs surrounding housing.
  • Have more questions? Contact Homeward at (804) 343-2045 or