Why Don't People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay? In this guide, we shall show you Why Some Homeless Choose The Streets Over Shelters?

Why Don't People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

Many homeless persons, contrary to popular opinion, have occupations. Many working poor people are unable to use shelters since check-in hours are often strict and the procedure of waiting in line and checking in takes hours. Others work evening or night shifts, preventing them from entering before curfew.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, hypothermia kills an estimated 700 persons who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless each year. Every day, street outreach workers in cities around the country go out into neighborhoods to persuade homeless people to seek shelter, but many reject.

Let’s now find out Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay below.

Table of Contents

Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

Kylyssa Shay was homeless for nearly a year as a child, which inspired her to become a homeless advocate. She has thoughts, feelings, and views.

A Story of Kylyssa Shay

I spent a lot of my time sleeping “in the rough,” which is another way of saying outside, when I was homeless. Many people assume that the homeless don’t use shelters because they take drugs (which is against the guidelines) or refuse to follow one of the shelter’s rules. But no, I wasn’t on drugs or too stubborn to follow the regulations.

Why didn’t I just stay in shelters, I’ve been asked. The problem is complicated, but here is my response, including my reasons for sleeping on the street and some of the reasons I’ve seen others avoid shelters. Some of these may astound you. I know I was taken aback when I discovered a handful of them.

Please keep in mind that not all, if any, of these drawbacks apply to all facilities. Nonetheless, many homeless people in the United States have had negative experiences at such institutions, which may have led them to avoid utilizing them altogether in the future. There are some excellent ones available as well. They can simply be difficult to locate at times.


As someone who has worked in homeless shelters, I know that the vast majority of the people who work there are wonderful people who are doing their best. I’m delighted that these resources are available to assist folks who are homeless. However, it would be a disservice to assume that there are enough shelters in America, or that they are all safe or without other drawbacks.


1. Pets are not permitted.

Pets are not permitted.

Some people refuse to give up their faithful companionship in exchange for a legal place to sleep. Consider your family dog, the one you’ve cherished for years and consider a member of the family.

Imagine you’ve become homeless, and the only thing you have left from your previous life is that loyal, lifelong companion.

He is the only person who can provide you love and companionship. Would you be willing to abandon him without hesitation?

Because pets are usually not allowed in shelters, their owners are forced to sleep outside with their only remaining friends: their pets.

2. Entrance Refused Due to Mental Illness

Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay? Even though caretakers have given them documents confirming that they are not a danger to themselves or others, some persons are denied admittance due to mental illness.

Because most personnel and volunteers aren’t educated to discriminate between violent criminals and innocent persons with mental illnesses, some (but thankfully not all) shelters have a tendency to be overly cautious and refuse anyone with any mental health difficulties access. Workers and organizations cannot be criticized for not being prepared to deal with mentally ill customers because they lack the means to train volunteers and employees.

3. Discrimination Against LGBTQ People 

Discrimination Against LGBTQ People 

Many shelters, like the parents who abandoned them, discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons, and as a result, 40 percent of homeless teens and youth identify as LGBT.

The National Coalition for the Homeless claims that

“LGBT adolescents are also disproportionately homeless as a result of overt discrimination when seeking alternative accommodation — pervasive discrimination in federally financed institutions regularly adds to LGBT kids’s rising rates of homelessness. These kids are subjected to more physical and sexual exploitation than their heterosexual counterparts once they become homeless.”


4. Incompatible Hours of Operation with Work Hours

Many homeless persons, contrary to popular opinion, have occupations. Many working poor people are unable to use shelters since check-in hours are often strict and the procedure of waiting in line and checking in takes hours. Others work evening or night shifts, preventing them from entering before curfew. People who work from 9 to 5 can’t utilize them because it’s generally too late for them to wait in line for check-in by the time they get off work.

Another reason some shelters are incompatible with employment is that they compel people to attend AA or other drug abuse rehab sessions every day or most days they utilize the facility, whether or not they have a drug or alcohol issue. These classes are sometimes scheduled during normal work hours. Others compel customers to take simple job skill classes or other life-skill classes during company hours, even if they are already employed and well-versed in such areas.

I had already decided to sleep outside solely by the time I had a regular job, so this was not an issue for me.

5. The Risk of Being Raped or Assaulted

The Risk of Being Raped or Assaulted

Human predators frequently use homeless shelters and the surroundings surrounding them as hunting grounds. Some of the more artistic ones find work at charities, but the majority simply keep an eye out for people leaving in the morning or coming in the evening.

Rapists aren’t the only ones. Predators looking for “fun” will stalk a lone person leaving a facility in order to beat him or harass him.

Furthermore, while there are always security guards on duty, nearly none of them are equipped to deal with violent behavior, leaving consumers unprotected.

Volunteers can’t be expected to put themselves in the kind of risk that intervening in such situations necessitates, nor can they keep their eyes on the backs of their heads or keep an eye on everyone. It’s typical to have insufficient staffing, and people can only do so much.

This was the number one reason for me to stay away from them.

You don’t want to do it again after being raped or assaulted in a shelter, or after being followed after leaving one, no matter how hot, cold, wet, or otherwise terrible the weather is outside.

Criminals are well aware that allegations from persons who do not have a home are rarely taken seriously by the police.

Many people avoid shelters because one of the most successful methods to avoid predators is to seem to not be homeless (which means avoiding shelters, missions, and soup meals).

6. Fear of Contracting a Disease

In close proximity, diseases spread quickly. There’s always at least one coughing individual in the room. Coughing is one of the reasons it’s difficult to fall asleep in a shelter. Many people who have coughs have chronic illnesses or diseases that are spread from person to person. Tuberculosis is a shockingly common disease among homeless persons. Even the flu can be a life-threatening condition to get when you may have to sleep outside in the elements on any given night (there’s no assurance you’ll get into a shelter every night).

When you consider how many people become homeless as a result of poor health or chronic conditions, it’s easy to see how crowded housing poses an even larger risk to them.

7. An Invasion of Privacy and Disrespectful Check-In

An Invasion of Privacy and Disrespectful Check-In

This response has gotten me a lot of flak, but even though it only played a little role in my decision to avoid shelters, I think it’s worth mentioning: the check-in process in some, but not all, of these facilities can be humiliating and degrading.

“Do you have any sexual partners you could stay with?” and other inquiries concerning my sex life have been asked of me on several occasions.

One employee even suggested that I locate a lover with whom I could stay, implying that I would trade sexual favors for a place to sleep.

Keep in mind that I had already been the victim of sexual assault, as had most women who had been homeless for more than a few weeks.

It made me feel terrible, as if I were a second-class citizen with nothing else to offer.

8. Inadequate Facilities for Handicapped People

I was surprised to see someone turned away because he was in a wheelchair when I was waiting to speak with someone about volunteering at a connected soup kitchen.

Another person and I volunteered to pull his chair up the stairs and assist him inside if he needed it, but they said that it was due to insurance worries and that he couldn’t stay.

That was the first and, unfortunately, not the last occasion I saw a handicapped person turned away from a homeless shelter.

Many of these groups make use of old structures that have been repurposed to accommodate a large number of beds.

Their bedrooms are sometimes positioned above the first floor, and there are no elevators. Some restrooms do not have railings, and some rooms and structures do not have ramps.

Some facilities are unable to accommodate individuals in wheelchairs, which is not the responsibility of those who run them.

Regardless of what the Americans with Disabilities Act specifies, some places that provide temporary accommodation turn away persons who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, such as crutches or a walker.

While they may occasionally provide a hotel coupon to the disabled person, this is not always the case. Not every group has the resources to do so, and breaking the guidelines might result in a shelter being closed down.

They don’t want to turn disabled individuals away, but they may not have a choice.

9. Substance Abuse/Drug Addictions

Substance Abuse/Drug Addictions

Yes, some people avoid shelters because of their own or others’ drug addictions.

Some drug users will avoid these sites because they have signs stating that they are drug-free zones.

Many drug users and sellers, on the other hand, do not, making some shelters hotspots for drug activity, and individuals afraid of drug-related behavior may come to avoid shelters as a result, fearing for their or their children’s safety.

Others are attempting to come off drugs and find that being around other users makes it tough, so they avoid going there while trying to kick their drug or alcohol addictions.

10. Separation of Family Members

Most homeless shelters segregate families, which is a major problem.

Women can bring their pre-teen children to most women’s shelters, but teenage male children (as early as 13) may be forced to go to a men’s shelter, which they may not be able to access.

Can you picture a mother leaving her adolescent kid alone on the street while she sleeps inside? Because most parents are unwilling to leave their children, the entire family sleeps in their car or outside.

Because men and women cannot normally stay in the same spot, husbands and wives are separated, knowing that their spouse may not be able to find a bed elsewhere.

These individuals are frequently elderly or incapacitated, and they rely on one another for safety and care. As a result, the majority of them will forego temporary emergency housing in order to care for one another.

Furthermore, children are not permitted to stay in the vast majority of men’s shelters.

This puts single fathers in an extremely tough situation, one that is not only distressing but also illegal.

While some may argue that the children should simply be taken away, homelessness is usually only temporary, and the loss of a parent or parents will most likely have a more profound impact on a child than a month or so of uncertainty and discomfort. Another reason why homeless people avoid shelters.

11. Some service dogs are not permitted to enter.

Other than seeing eye and hearing assistance dogs, service dogs are occasionally turned away from homeless shelters.

Mobility dogs (that help you stand or get into your wheelchair, assist you up stairs, and so on), dogs that help with mental illnesses like anxiety or agoraphobia, and other service dogs are even more frequently denied access.

People routinely misplace their own identification papers, often through no fault of their own, so it’s no surprise that they also misplace their service animal’s identification papers.

Even in the case of seeing-eye and hearing-assistance dogs, the dog will not be allowed inside if the owner has misplaced the paperwork or does not have an approved harness. Few people would ditch a service dog in that situation.

While it’s understandable that facilities won’t allow animals, especially those that aren’t service animals, it’s also understandable that disabled people wouldn’t want to give up an animal that helps them function, especially if there’s a chance the animal will die from exposure or get lost or stolen.

Many people who rely on animals for independence and safety are adamant about never being parted from them.

12. Assumptions made by employees concerning drug use and criminality

Many shelter personnel and volunteers perceive all persons who require their services as drug addicts and criminals, even if they don’t say it out loud. Many people avoid using those services in order to avoid being labeled as such.

When you’re homeless, a lot of people assume you’re a criminal or a drug addict. They are unable to realize that a person without a home may just be someone who has fallen on hard times due to no fault of his or her own.

Many organizations and their staff or volunteers, while I’m sure they mean well, take it upon themselves to cure people of their sometimes non-existent addictions and criminal ways. Some individuals place a lot of pressure on homeless people to go to alcohol and drug misuse treatment, even if they don’t drink or use drugs.

When I insisted that I had no drug or alcohol problems, I remember getting smirks and puzzled expressions. “Well, then, why are you so skinny?” one employee inquired.

Most employed homeless people and those actively pursuing employment avoid shelters that demand substance addiction counseling since it takes time away from job searches and present employment, which the ordinary person in such a situation cannot afford. Another reason why homeless people avoid shelters.

13. Danger of Theft

Danger of Theft

While the majority of homeless persons are not thieves, a handful are. It only takes one person to ruin the experience for everyone else. When you don’t have a place to call home, your meager possessions are priceless; they’re all you have.

Despite the fact that I was not robbed inside a shelter, I heard from many people who had been. To safeguard their few limited goods from theft, they stopped using shelters.

Shoes are one of the most popular items to be stolen. Foot care is crucial, and losing your only pair of shoes might put your life in jeopardy. If they are stolen, it can be incredibly difficult to replace them.

14. Religious Distinctions

Most shelters and kitchens have a religious ceremony that individuals must attend in order to eat or sleep there.

Even though I’m an atheist, this didn’t concern me. Honestly, no matter what I had to pretend to believe, I was relieved to be in a climate-controlled room and sitting at ease somewhere without worry of being harassed by gangs or cops.

It didn’t concern me in the least that I had to acknowledge that I was being punished by God for being a wicked person.

Some people, particularly those with strong religious convictions who believe they already have a solid relationship with God, oppose to this. I’ve met a number of folks who refuse to sit through the services and claim their circumstances are God’s rightful punishment for being a bad person.

When someone looks down on them and tells them they don’t have a good enough relationship with Jesus to earn a place to dwell, they may become tremendously insulted.

15. Afraid of crowds and a lack of privacy

Afraid of crowds and a lack of privacy

Many well-off people believe that those who are low on their luck do not deserve privacy. The complete lack of privacy, on the other hand, might be particularly difficult for persons who suffer from mental illnesses that cause them to be afraid of crowds.

Even though they were ailing and ill-suited to outside sleeping even when the weather was nice, I observed some crowd-phobic folks who could not be persuaded to use a homeless facility.

Whether or not they are deserving of solitude, those with mental illnesses that produce a dread of crowds or even a moderate number of people crammed into close quarters are legitimately scared of such situations, even in the safest of situations.

Charities, unsurprisingly, try to maximize their square footage by cramming as many beds as possible into their facility. Unfortunately, persons with PTSD, claustrophobia, social anxiety, or a fear of crowds may find them disturbing.

16. Inability to exert control

A person’s life is usually already out of control by the time he or she is on the street. In a shelter, the regimented check-in, eating, prayer, sleep, and check-out times can add to that feeling. Some people prefer to be outside because it gives them a sense of control over their lives. Here is another reason why homeless people avoid shelters.

17. Discriminatory Rules that Put Disabled People at Danger

Discriminatory Rules that Put Disabled People at Danger

Walkers, crutches, and canes are sometimes taken away from users upon check-in at various organizations. Even appliances like leg braces are sometimes taken away for “safekeeping.”

While I understand that the risk of theft is real, and that some mentally ill persons may strike people with crutches, braces, or walkers, being left without movement in an unfamiliar environment is terrifying. As a result, some people who require medical gadgets or mobility aids avoid using homeless shelters.

18. There aren’t enough beds to go around.

For everyone, there isn’t enough secure, legal shelter. Regardless of how many individuals opt not to use them, there aren’t nearly enough beds accessible for those who choose to sleep inside despite the risks.

In most US communities, there is only enough space for about a quarter of the homeless population. In some cities, less than 5% of the homeless population can be accommodated.

In addition, many localities have passed regulations limiting the number of persons who can be served by a charity.

Some may not be able to accommodate more than 20 people! In addition, some communities have passed regulations prohibiting services from being held in or near the downtown area (where the churches and other groups most likely to perform such services own land), or laws prohibiting two shelters from being within a particular distance of each other.

This is why queues form early in the day to check in, and staff is often quick to deny people access for the most insignificant of reasons.

This could explain why some facilities have such stringent usage rules. In fact, some of them have made their requirements so stringent that they don’t even fill the amount of beds they have, despite a long queue of people seeking to get a spot to sleep.

The ordinances, in my opinion, are a worse problem than the lack of financing since they have prohibited people with money from creating new shelters or expanding current ones.

Find out what your local laws are about homeless facilities and write to your congresspeople and reps about it, as well as donate to local organizations and help fund new ones.

19. Aversion to parasitic infestations such as lice, scabies, pubic lice, or bedbugs.

3. Discrimination Against LGBTQ People 

Regardless of how clean a facility is kept, the risk of contracting parasites is still very significant. This isn’t the fault of the people who manage the shelters or the organizations that administer them; it’s simply a risk of having hundreds of people sleeping in the same place at the same time; bedbugs are now even frequent in high-end hotels. Because they sleep in a variety of locations, homeless people are more prone to carry parasites. So if you sleep every night in a different bed that a long string of other people has slept in, or if you sleep too close to an ever-changing assortment of people, you’re bound to get head lice, pubic lice, or scabies at some point, and parasites are difficult to get rid of when you don’t have a home.

Bedbugs are a biting parasitic insect that may readily infest a bedroll, rucksack, clothes, or other personal belongings. Homeless people do not want to infest the houses of those who provide them with a place to stay the night, nor do they want to carry bedbugs to work. To avoid bringing bedbugs home with them, volunteers and staff must also take precautions.

My second main reason for avoiding shelters was the parasites that are usually found there. Just thinking about the unpleasant things makes me itch.

Would You Be Reluctant to Use a Shelter?

There aren’t nearly enough shelters, and many of those that do exist are either too dangerous or, more commonly, too regulated to provide a safe sanctuary from the weather.

The truth is that nearly no one is immune to the threat of becoming homeless. In many circumstances, a single personal disaster is all it takes to place an individual or family on the street. People that are homeless are just like you and me.

Do you see why many people without traditional housing avoid shelters after reading this article and learning more about the hazards and indignities you might face there?

You can’t expect homeless people to use a homeless shelter if you don’t. I hope you will share this upsetting information with others to help them understand why things must change.

If you were homeless would you be reluctant or feel some apprehension about using a shelter?

Yes or No. Please let us know your views on this on the comment box.

Should Be Grateful for Assistance No Matter How They Are Treated? Or Do People Deserve to Be Treated like Human Beings?

Should They Be Thankful for Help Regardless of How They Are Treated? Alternatively, do people deserve to be treated as human beings?

Some argue that the homeless should be grateful for any scraps thrown their way, regardless of the indignities, risks, or humiliations they may endure to obtain them.

They believe they should be grateful even if a worker offers they trade sexual favors for a place to stay or if they are raped inside or outside of a shelter. Anyone who claims that there is anything wrong with shelters as they are now is simply hateful, they believe.

They think that criticizing any efforts to help, regardless of how those who are being helped are handled, is a sin. These opinions are supported by the hate mail I’ve gotten in response to this page.

Despite the fact that I volunteered in shelters for many years and know that the vast majority of staff are doing their best, I believe the system is terribly dysfunctional. There are insufficient facilities or security, and a homeless person is a person who ought to be treated with respect. What are your thoughts?

Homeless people should be grateful for any help, no matter the dangers or indignities required to receive it.

Yes, beggars can’t be choosers.
Yes, homeless people gave up their rights to safety and dignity.
No, homeless people are still people and deserve to be treated as such.

Other, explained in the guestbook below.

More Articles on Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

More Articles on Why People Avoid Sleeping in Homeless Shelters and Instead Sleep Outside

Why Do Some Homeless People Prefer the Streets over Shelters?

This is a transcript of an NPR Talk of the Nation segment about why some people choose to sleep outside.

Part 1 of the Survival Guide to Homelessness: Shelters are for Others

A fascinating description of one man’s involvement with a faith-based organization. The comments are also worth reading. Although it isn’t a current post, he expresses himself clearly and well, and some of the responses provide useful information.

Do We Need More and Better Homeless Shelters, as Well as Support for Existing Shelters?

This article reflects the author’s personal views. It is correct and true to the best of the author’s knowledge, but it should not be used as a substitute for objective information or counsel in legal, political, or personal concerns.

Answers to the questions

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow, wow What a tidal wave of feedback! I’d want to ask you a brief inquiry. What are some items that you believe homeless persons who are already in a shelter could benefit from? We’re putting together some care packages for our local shelter in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Answer: I recommend reading my post “Things to Buy if You’re Homeless” for ideas on what homeless individuals could require. You can also inquire at local shelters.

FAQs on Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

Below are some FAQs on on Why Don’t People Give The Homeless A Place To Stay?

Why don t homeless people just go home to their family?

Family members may be concerned about their safety and possessions. They may also be concerned that the homeless person would become reliant on their assistance and refuse to go.

Why do people become homeless in the first place?

According to San Francisco’s 2019 homeless survey, job loss was listed as the leading cause of homelessness by 26% of respondents, followed by drugs and alcohol (18%), eviction (13%), and mental illness (13%). (8 percent)

What is politically correct for homeless?

The Associated Press modified its stylebook in May 2020 to emphasize “person-first” language; it advised against using the term “homeless,” which it called “dehumanizing,” and instead should use terminology like “homeless individuals” or “those without housing.”

What are the best options for dealing with a homeless person?
  • Respect the homeless as individuals.
  • Respond with kindness.
  • Develop lists of shelters.
  • Bring food.
  • Give money.
  • Donate clothing.
  • Donate a bag of groceries.
  • Volunteer at a shelter.
What can I do if I am homeless and have no money?

For homeless services, you may need to phone a hotline or go to a community-designated agency. A “homeless hotline,” “2-1-1,” or other organization/agency in your neighborhood may act as the “front door” to receiving any form of assistance.

Can homeless people get jobs?

People who are homeless want to work, according to research, and many of them assiduously seek out job prospects or labor in some manner. Homelessness, on the other hand, makes it nearly impossible to get and keep a formal job.

Where is the best place to be homeless?
  • Houston, Texas.
  • Austin, Texas
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Berkeley, California
  • San Diego, California
  • New Orleans, Louisiana.
Which state has the most homeless?
  • California (151,278)
  • New York (92,091)
  • Florida (28,328)
  • Texas (25,848)
  • Washington (21,577)
  • Massachusetts (18,471)
  • Oregon (15,876)
  • Pennsylvania (13,199)
Which state has the most homeless 2021?
  • Florida (28,328)
  • Texas (25,848)
  • Washington (21,577)
  • Massachusetts (18,471)
  • Oregon (15,876)
  • Pennsylvania (13,199)
  • Georgia (10,443)
  • Ohio (10,345)
Why do people want to homeless?

To some, having the ability to roam around, sleep wherever they want, and do whatever they want is far more valuable than having a roof over their heads. This one may be less anchored in fact than freedom, but some homeless people believe that being out in the open, among the people of the city, makes them feel safe.

What city has the most homeless?

New York City is the capital of the United States. New York Metropolis is the most populous city in the United States, therefore it’s no surprise that it has the greatest homeless population. According to HUD, there are 78,604 homeless people in New York City, both in shelters and on the streets.

Is it easy to become homeless?

Nobody deserves to be on the street. Some folks are fleeing domestic violence, battling mental illness, recovering from an addiction, or barely scraping by to buy a home. As a result, it takes people 3-6 months to find a new job after losing one, and it’s very simple to become homeless during that time.

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