Minnesota mom in red and black floral tank top sitting on gray sofa who seeked housing and shelter

Every shelter and safe housing program is different, but the following is generally what you can expect.

Going to a Shelter

Before making the decision to enter a shelter or safe housing program, you will talk with an advocate about your situation. If the program does not have space or it is not a good fit for you, the advocate will try to help you find another safe place. When contacting Day One, you always have the power to make decisions for yourself.

What can I expect if I go to a shelter?

Every shelter and safe housing program is different, but the following is generally what you can expect:

  • Safe, private location. Shelters and safe housing programs make everyone’s safety their first priority. You may be asked to keep the location a secret.
  • No fees. Shelters and safe housing programs are free.
  • Transportation. Most programs will provide transportation to a shelter or safe housing program. Many also offer residents bus tokens and transportation to appointments.
  • Children’s safety. As advocates, we understand that children are also impacted by domestic violence. Advocates will be able to work with both you and your family offering support, information, and parenting resources. Domestic violence programs are mandated reporters of child abuse.
  • Self-provided childcare. Your children will be under your watch and care at all times. Childcare may be provided during groups and other activities.
  • Help finding a safe place for your pet. Most shelters are unable to accommodate your pets, beyond service animals. There are alternatives, however, to find a temporary safe place for your pets to be cared for elsewhere before you are reunited. Learn more about pet protection.
  • Confidentiality. Your information will be private and will not be shared with other agencies unless you give your written permission. You will be asked to honor the privacy of other program participants by not discussing their names or situations with anyone else.
  • Food, clothing, and toiletries. Shelters and safe housing programs will provide basic necessities for you and your family at no cost.
  • Sleeping arrangements. You may share common areas and might be asked to share a bedroom. In most shelters, you will share the kitchen, common living areas, and bathrooms with other residents. 
  • Laundry facilities. Shelters and safe housing programs usually have laundry facilities and provide guests with linens (sheets, towels, and blankets).
  • Visitors. Visitors are generally not allowed in the shelter or safe housing program, but you can meet with your friends and family elsewhere.

*Portions of the text on this page were adapted from the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and is used with their permission.

Housing Options Beyond Shelter

Emergency shelter may not be the best option for you or after your immediate safety has been addressed, you may want to consider alternative housing arrangements.

Find help through Coordinated Entry

Coordinated Entry (or Coordinated Access) is the system used by counties to connect those experiencing homelessness with housing opportunities that match their needs. If you are experiencing homelessness, fleeing, or attempting to flee domestic violence, you may want to complete a Coordinated Entry assessment through your county to be added to the priority list.

Eligibility may differ between counties so make sure to check in with your local assessors to learn about eligibility for housing programs in your area:

Rental Assistance with Rapid Re-Housing

Rapid rehousing programs offer rental assistance to households with a lower level of barriers, with the goal of helping a household transition quickly from experiencing homelessness into permanent stable housing. The rental assistance is used with market-rate housing, usually selected by the household. The level of assistance and length of the program varies from program to program and may depend on the specific needs of the household. 

Longer-term Housing with Transitional Housing

Transitional housing programs provide longer-term housing (up to about 2 years) after you leave an emergency shelter or safe housing, and help you prepare to move into more permanent housing. There are usually required life skills and education classes for you to participate in that can help empower you to find more permanent housing and rebuild your life. Openings for transitional housing programs are often limited. If you already have an advocate you are working with, they can assist with exploring transitional housing options. You can also call a Day One advocate to learn more about your options and other supportive services available in your area. 

Permanent Supportive Housing

Permanent Supportive Housing is long-term housing that provides rental assistance for as long as you need it and continue to qualify based on income. Some of these housing options are available through site-based properties or through scattered-site options. Many permanent supportive housing options require proof of a disability in addition to income requirements, but each program is different. Others may only have income requirements and utilize a waitlist to fill openings as they come up. Reach out to each program to learn more about their application process and to learn if you qualify. 

FAQs for Housing

How do I qualify for Coordinated Entry?

To qualify for Coordinated Entry, you need to be experiencing homelessness or either fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence. 

Most Coordinated Entry Systems use the definition for homelessness as set by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). There are four categories of homelessness, which are explained below. If any of them apply to you, you are able to complete a Coordinated Entry Assessment. 

  1. An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning:
    1. An individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;
    2. An individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low income individuals); or
    3. An individual who is exiting an institution where he or she resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution;
  2. An individual or family who is being evicted within 14 days from their primary nighttime residence.
  3. An unaccompanied youth under 25 or families with children and youth who have been unstable or have no housing agreements for the past 60 days.
  4. Any individual or family who:
    1. Is fleeing, or is attempting to flee, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, or other dangerous or life-threatening conditions that relate to violence against the individual or a family member, including a child, that has either taken place within the individual’s or family’s primary nighttime residence or has made the individual or family afraid to return to their primary nighttime residence;
    2. Has no other residence; and
    3. Lacks the resources or support networks, e.g., family, friends, and faith based or other social networks, to obtain other permanent housing.
How long will it take to get referred to a housing program?

Unfortunately, a referral to a housing program is not guaranteed and it is difficult to predict the length of time a household will be waiting on the priority list. It is recommended to continue searching for housing and other resources to address any barriers to housing. It’s also important to keep your contact information up to date with your assessor so that if you are referred to a housing program, the provider is able to reach you. 

What is included in a Coordinated Entry Assessment?

The Coordinated Entry Assessment asks about different areas of your life that could impact housing stability, such as housing history, physical and mental health, current income, vulnerability measurement, and housing preferences. The assessment does discuss issues that can be sensitive or difficult to talk about. For this reason, if you have experienced domestic or sexual violence, it is recommended to reach out to an assessor who is trained in responding to those experiences. In addition to completing the assessment through a trauma-informed lens, they may be able to provide additional support or resources to address your safety concerns.

If you are in Hennepin Country and need to complete a Coordinated Entry Assessment, you can reach out to the Domestic Abuse Project’s First Call Office at 612-874-7063 ext. 232 or email [email protected]. For other counties, reach out to your nearest domestic violence advocacy agency to find out how to complete an assessment.

How will I know if I have been referred to a housing program?

When you are referred to a housing program, someone from the provider agency will reach out to you directly to complete an intake and ensure you are eligible for their program. Coordinated Entry assessors are NOT case managers and do not have any influence on when a household is referred to a housing program. However, it is important to keep your contact information up to date with your assessor so that if you are referred to a housing program, the provider is able to reach you. 

If you find a housing opportunity outside of the Coordinated Entry system, you can let your assessor know so they can remove you from the priority list. 

What kind of programs could I be referred to through Coordinated Entry?

You are able to get referred to a Rapid Rehousing, a Transitional Housing, or a Permanent Supportive Housing program through Coordinated Entry. Your household size, level of need and barriers to housing stability will impact which type of program you are referred to. Refer to the descriptions above for more information on each type of housing program. Amount of support and length of programming differs between programs. If you are referred to a housing program, the provider will review the specifics of their program with you during the intake process.

How can a housing advocate help me?

A housing advocate can assist with setting goals and working to reduce any barriers to housing stability you may have. Often this includes reviewing your rental history report and credit report and discussing with you the areas of concern that may arise when applying for housing. Whenever possible, an advocate can connect you with resources to dispute any inaccurate marks on your reports or to improve your credit. They will be familiar with local rental laws and protections; they may be able to provide recommendations when navigating difficult landlord/tenant relationships or issues and can help you understand your rights as a tenant.

Contact Day One to Discuss Shelter and Housing Options

Call the Minnesota Day One Crisis Line 1-866-223-1111 to speak with an advocate (interpreters are available), text 612-399-9995, or click the CHAT NOW button on this site to connect with a Day One advocate. A Day One advocate is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

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