How to Provide Transitional Housing Services

Transitional housing services bridge the gap between emergency housing needs, chronic homelessness and stable housing. In addition to putting a roof and four walls around the individual and any family members in crisis, transitional housing services include medical and psychological assessment, career counseling and resume writing, family and parenting skill development, and substance abuse education and referral.

Decide which category of need to serve. Women and children fleeing domestic violence situations, transgendered individuals, returning war veterans, people with substance abuse issues, recent parolees, and people with mental illness and developmental disabilities comprise the largest six segments of population in need of transitional housing services. Each segment requires a slightly different set of services to successfully lift the individual to permanent economic independence and ensure permanent stable housing.

Check local zoning laws. Although housing discrimination is illegal, many neighborhoods take a "Not In My Back Yard" view of homelessness relief. If zoning is single family only, you will need more buildings, which will add to your project's overhead or reduce the number of families and individuals you will be able to serve. Multi-unit neighborhoods and areas outside zoning restrictions will be cheaper to obtain and often lead to less controversy, but access for those who need your services most will be limited by available public transportation, access to medical and psychological services, schools and employment possibilities.

Offer resume writing and job seeking skills training. Economic independence is the single most important factor to combat chronic homelessness. The ability to understand the needs of employers are key to a successful transition. Provide access to appropriate interview attire, hair and nail care, laundry facilities and supplies as needed.

Offer screening services for traumatic brain Injury, post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, rape and depression. Among women and the LGBT population, rape is endemic. It can be assumed that effects of past or recent rapes may be a factor in refusal to seek medical attention for other, more visible injuries. Male to female transsexuals and women with children will be especially reluctant to seek help where privacy and confidentiality appear to be compromised. Offer rape counseling as a matter of course rather than waiting for it to be requested.

Child care must be made available if women are to succeed in gaining economic independence, stable housing and full employment. Child care services must include screening for childhood psychological and developmental needs, including the need for counseling, play and art therapy.