Shelter for Persons Unsheltered

The spectrum of disabilities among the American homeless population, hereafter referred to as persons unsheltered, should qualify for ADA facilitation of required services, but instead the very presence of persons unsheltered elicits the most significant societal discrimination since the Jim Crow south. The net result of this discrimination is that the problem is not addressed by those with the wherewithal to do so, and thus possible solutions receive neither resources nor serious consideration.  This status quo is unacceptable.

What World Shelters has determined and is working with commitment to achieve towards sheltering persons unsheltered includes:

  • In California, CA Senate Bill 2 creates a scenario for civil rights for providers and tenants of “transitional residential shelters”: parcels zoned for emergency shelter by right; i.e. no need for a Conditional Use Permit, nor Variance, and therefore no public hearings, no NIMBYs engendering further discrimination against persons unsheltered.
  • Given the SB2 context in CA, providers of emergency shelter need to commit to their site improvements conforming to the development standards for emergency shelter sites (all defined in the jurisdiction’s Housing Element Update)
  • Then to receive the building permit, the proposed ultra-low cost structures being used as “detached bedrooms” need to comply with applicable building/health/fire codes of the jurisdiction.
    • If the proposed program conforms to zoning, development standards and building codes, the permit must be issued per SB2. (Again, with no public hearings.)
    • Keep the program conforming and LEGAL to keep the providers and tenants civil rights intact.
  • Do all of the above economically self-sustaining at such a low cost (e.g. WS U-Domes fire-retardant hard-panel shelters at ~$5/ft2; or “$2 per person per day for shelter with dignity and hot showers”) that the shelter is affordable by the persons unsheltered, with no need for government subsidy to the program nor continuous grants for the program to be financially viable.
  • The underlying principles that guide us in this strategy include:
    • Make each program financially self-sustaining, scalable and replicable
    • Integrate and coordinate with the local stakeholders
    • Work to provide necessary complementary services
    • Provide the means for individuals to take steps towards their personal preferred state
    • Create a ramp for our disadvantaged neighbors to step again into the social and economic milieu.

The opportunity is at hand to create sufficient shelter capacity for all persons unsheltered in every jurisdiction in CA, with a self-sustaining program that is affordable to those in need.  As CA’s Senate Bill 2 promotes successful emergency and transitional shelter programs, we hope that other states will replicate the civil rights model to facilitate provision of shelter for the persons unsheltered in every community.

Bruce LeBel

Executive Director
World Shelters

Entry to Buckminster Fuller Challenge by World Shelters – Sheltering U.S. Persons Unsheltered: Creating Legally Conforming, Economically Sustainable Emergency and Transitional Shelter