Homeless awareness campaign poster. Faded out image of a homeless person sleeping on a bench in a park in the winter

For someone facing a winter night on the street, access to an emergency shelter can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. However, the value of shelters goes beyond meeting immediate needs. Emergency shelters often serve as the “front door” to a broader system of supports. Salvation Army staff use their extensive knowledge and strong agency partnerships to help clients connect with the resources and services they need to stabilize in the community.

In 2014, The Salvation Army conducted wide-ranging consultations with staff, clients, researchers, and community leaders to understand “What are the best practices for ending homelessness, and how can Salvation Army shelters measure effectiveness in achieving this outcome?”

From this work, seven evidence-informed, outcomes-focused Operating Principles were developed to guide the work of Salvation Army emergency shelters:

  1. We take a person-centred, holistic approach and ensure that people with particular vulnerabilities are supported.
  2. We help people experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness to access stable, positive housing and appropriate supports.
  3. We use harm reduction principles to guide services to clients and behaviour-based criteria for restricting access to shelter.
  4. We ensure people who have high needs receive accompaniment and follow-up services.
  5. We aim to make every discharge from shelter an organized departure.
  6. We coordinate services and participate in planning with community partners.
  7. We track and analyze outcomes to inform planning and policy decisions and continually improve services.

Further details on the Operating Principles:

Overview_EN_TSA_Emergency Shelter Operating Principles

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