Category Archives: Study

Effectiveness of Non-Profit Shelter Programs

Effectiveness of Non-Profit Shelter Programs

I’ve been looking at the following document:   NATIONAL SURVEY OF HOMELESS ASSISTANCE PROVIDERS AND CLIENTS (NSHAPC) which is  based on the US Census Bureau survey of 40,000 service providers in the US.    You can find a copy of it (about 70 pages) here 

Administrators of housing programs were asked where their clients went after leaving the program.   Administrators of housing programs tend to know where their clients go after leaving their program.    On average, administrators of faith-based housing programs know the destinations of about 75 percent of their unaccompanied individual clients and 90 percent of their family clients.  The corresponding figures for secular non-profit housing programs are 86 percent of unaccompanied individuals and 90 percent of families.

The top three destinations are the same irrespective of whether the client is alone or with children and whether the program is run by a faith-based or secular non-profit agency.  These destinations are (1) a family or friend’s housing, (2) private unsubsidized housing, and (3) government subsidized housing.

Successful transitions:
Where they went afterward……… Faith Based……. Secular…… (both are non profits. The figures below apply to individuals, not families)
1) Family or Friends housing……….17.6 ……………….25.1
2) Private Unsubsidized……………….21.6………………..17.7
3) government subsidized………….. 13.0………………. 14.3
4) transitional housing…………………. 9.7………………… 7.3
on average success…………………… 61.9………………. 64.6

Unsucessful transitions
5) The streets or other outside……12.7………………… 8.7
6) Other emergency shelter………. 11.6……………….. 8.9
7) Other (jail, hospital, etc)………… 13.8………………. 18.8

Arrow The above data (from Table 11 of the document) seems to show that Secular non-profits are slightly more effective than faith based non-profits in moving the homeless off the streets. and much more effective in putting homeless back into family or friends housing.

Arrow The success rate for either is slightly better than 60%. However, about 9 to 12% of individuals moving from shelter to shelter and another 9 to 12% going right back to the streets. For families, the rates are as follows:

Faith Based:……. 76.2% into housing of some type ……17.6% to street or other shelter
Secular:…………… 82.3% into housing of some type…….11.1% to street or other shelter

Arrow Secular programs seem to be doing somewhat better than Faith based programs for families and only slightly better for individuals.

Not the result I expected.

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So What is the Difference in These Programs?

The earlier part of this post has some startling revelations – Secular run shelters seem to have an overall higher rate of success on all levels than comparable Faith-based run shelters. 

I’m going out on a limb here to stimulate thought and see where it takes us.

I’m assuming that both Faith Based and Secular shelters have essentially the same rules, at least as far as alcohol and drug use, curfews, and disorderly conduct, theft and other such behavior, particularly when spread out over 40,000 shelters in the survey. I’m also assuming that both Faith Based and Secular shelter administrators and staff are both caring, have good hearts, and run the shelters in a firm but loving manner.

So… What really is the difference?    

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