Programs authorized under federal or provincial legislation or local government initiatives that provide financial assistance and supportive services for individuals and/or families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness. Included are prevention programs that help people at imminent risk for homelessness preserve current housing or secure alternative housing; diversion programs that help people actively seeking shelter to identify and access viable alternatives including shared housing arrangements and transitional housing/shelter; and rapid re-housing programs that help people who are already homeless move as quickly as possible into permanent housing. Services may include case management, rental deposits, rent assistance, utility deposits, housing search assistance, moving expenses, expenses related to non-shelter temporary housing in situations where permanent housing has been secured but is currently unavailable, and other costs the family may incur in the process of acquiring or maintaining housing. Allowable activities, eligibility criteria and other requirements vary depending on the jurisdiction, the funding source and the focus of the program.
Programs that provide a temporary place to stay (usually three days to two weeks), generally in dormitory-style facilities with very little privacy, for people who have no permanent housing.
Programs that provide affordable, community-based housing for individuals and families who have experienced long-term or chronic homelessness and have been diagnosed as having a physical or developmental disability, a severe mental illness, substance use disorder problems or HIV/AIDS; or are members of another designated group within the homeless population. Structures may include apartments, single-family houses, duplexes, group homes or single-room occupancy housing. Permanent supportive housing programs generally provide residents with the rights of tenancy under provincial or local landlord/tenant laws and are linked to services designed to meet residents' needs. Supportive services vary depending on the resident population. Most programs offer some type of case management and housing support, but may also offer more intensive mental health, substance use disorder, vocational, employment or other services which help promote independent living. Supportive services may be offered on-site or off-site, or be provided by a mobile service team and may be available to people with current housing who are at risk of becoming homeless.
Programs that provide comprehensive assessment, ongoing case management, work readiness, job training, job development, job placement services, post-placement follow-up and/or supportive services that are tailored to the specific needs of homeless individuals who need assistance preparing for, finding and retaining paid employment. Many programs specifically target outreach and enrollment efforts on homeless individuals or specific groups within the homeless population (e.g., homeless veterans, homeless youth, homeless individuals with serious mental illness, permanent supportive housing residents); and some partner with other organizations working with people who are homeless such as local mental health agencies; one-stop career centres; community-based nonprofit vocational rehabilitation agencies; case management organizations; housing agencies; and the local public housing authority.
Programs that help people who are homeless because they have become estranged from their families establish contact with their families. The program may also, where appropriate, help them negotiate the conditions under which they can return to their families and arrange for transportation home.
Programs that are staffed by outreach workers who spend time with people who live on the street, build relationships with them, identify and address their immediate needs (e.g., crisis intervention, food, clean clothing, hygiene kits, blankets, someone to listen) and provide information about and linkage to longer-term forms of support such as shelter, counselling, drug and alcohol detoxification and rehabilitation, care/case management and, where applicable, family reunification services. Street outreach programs may be staffed by volunteers or peers who were formerly homeless; and may target special populations such as homeless youth at risk for sexual abuse or exploitation, veterans, or people with specific medical or mental health conditions, or be available to the larger homeless population.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.