Ohio Coalition for the Homeless
1066 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43201
Ohio Department of Development
Office of Housing & Community Partnerships
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43266-0101
 Manual in MS Word .doc format (zip packed 1.2 Mb)

 Manual in .pdf format 2.0 Mb

Ohio Basic Standards for Emergency Homeless Shelters


Requested Points of Clarification


Standard #8: Policy Manuel

Standard #9: Evaluation of Services Offered


Standard #1: Table of Organization of Staff and Position Descriptions

Standard #2: Selection of Staff/EEO Guidelines
Standard #5: First Aid Training



Standard #4: Sanitation of Linens

Standard #8: Emergency Fire Procedures


Fiscal Management
Standard #2: Accountability of Client Funds/Valuables

Standard #4: Fiscal Control Procedures


Food Service


Standard #4: Referrals to Medical Providers

Standard #5: Possession/Use of Controlled Substances and Prescription Medications
Standard #6: Infectious Disease Control



Standard #2: Intake of Clients & Criteria for Admittance

Standard #3: Attendance List
Standard #4: Rules, Regulations & Procedures of the Shelter
Standard #5: Rights & Responsibilities of Clients, and Grievance Procedure
Standard #6: Requirements for Reporting Child Abuse
Standard #11: Safe, Secure Environment
Standard #12: Control of Weapons
Standard #16: Consensual/Non-Consensual Searches






1. The shelter shall be operated by a non-profit organization, recognized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

2. The shelter shall not require clients to participate in religious services or other forms of religious expression.

3. The shelter shall not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, or national origin. Shelters serving families with children shall also not discriminate on the basis of the sex or age of the children or the size of the family, except where limited by the facility.

4. The shelter's Board of Directors shall consist of voluntary (unpaid) members, with the possible exception of the agency's CEO or Director.

5. The shelter's Board of Directors shall meet at least on a quarterly basis and set overall policy for the shelter.

6. The shelter shall have a secure storage space for confidential documents relating to clients and personnel.

7. The shelter shall develop -and implement procedures to ensure the confidentiality of records pertaining to any individuals provided family violence prevention or treatment services.

8. The shelter shall have a policy manuel which includes the shelter's purpose, population served, program description, non-discrimination policy and confidentiality statement.

9. The shelter shall provide for an evaluation of the effectiveness of the services offered, at least annually.

1. The shelter shall have a table of organization of all paid staff working in the shelter. There shall be written position descriptions for each position type, which includes job responsibilities and qualifications.

2. The shelter shall have written policies for the selection of all paid personnel in conformance with the EEO guidelines.

3. The shelter shall have adequate, trained, on-site staff coverage during all hours the shelter is open to residents, unless individual secured units are provided.

4. All shelter staff shall receive training in at least the following:
a. emergency evacuation procedures;
b. agency operating procedures.

5. All relevant direct service staff shall receive additional training in at least the following:
a. non-violent crisis intervention techniques;
b. referral procedures to relevant community resources;
c. first aid procedures.

1. The shelter shall comply with applicable local fire, environmental, health, and safety standards and regulations.

2. The shelter shall be dean and in good repair.

3. The shelter shall have reasonable access to transportation services.

4. The shelter shall provide a bed or crib for each guest except in extenuating "overflow" conditions or unless the shelter has a Department of Development exemption based on size and/or type of shelter. The shelter shall make provision for clean linens for each client. There shall be procedures to provide for the sanitizing of all linens and sleeping surfaces.

5. The shelter shall provide sufficient showers/baths, wash basins and toilets which are in proper operating condition for personal hygiene. These should be adequate for the number of people served. Clean towels, soap and toilet tissue shall be available to each client.

6. The shelter shall have private space to meet with clients.

7. The shelter shall have laundry facilities available to clients or a system available for like services.

8. The shelter shall have a fire safety plan which includes at least the following:
a. posted evacuation plan;
b. fire drills, conducted at least quarterly;
c. fire detection systems which conform to local building and fire codes;
d. adequate fire exits;
e. adequate emergency lighting.

9. The shelter shall have adequate provision of the following services:
a. pest control services;
b. removal of garbage;
c. proper ventilation and heating/cooling systems;
d. to ensure that entrances, exits, steps and walkways are kept clear of garbage and other debris, ice and snow and other hazards.

10. The shelter shall provide adequate natural or artificial illumination to permit normal indoor activities and to support the health and safety of occupants. Sufficient electrical sources shall be provided to permit the use of essential electrical appliances while assuring safety from fire.

1. There shall be an accounting system which is maintained in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

2. The shelter shall have a record of accountability for client's funds or valuables the shelter is holding.

3. The shelter shall receive an annual independent audit or audit review.

4. The shelter shall have internal fiscal control procedures which are reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees.

1. Shelters providing food service shall make adequate provisions for the sanitary storage and preparation of foods.

2. Shelters providing food for infants, young children and pregnant mothers shall make provisions to meet their nutritional needs.

3. Shelters shall provide, or arrange food services to clients or make known the available services nearby.

1. The shelter shall have available at all times first aid equipment and supplies in case of a medical emergency.

2. All staff on duty shall have access to a telephone. Emergency telephone numbers shall be posted conspicuously near the telephone.

3. The shelter shall assure that at least one staff person on duty is trained in emergency first aid procedures.

4. The shall have a procedure for making referrals to appropriate medical providers.

5. The shelter shall have a written policy regarding the possession and use of controlled substances as well as prescription and over the counter medication.

6. The shelter shall have a written policy regarding the control of infectious diseases, such as HIV, tuberculosis, etc.

7. The shelter shall provide a locked place for the storage of medications.

1. In addition to sleeping arrangements and food, the shelter shall provide the following basic needs:
a. humane care which preserves the individual dignity;
b. a clean environment;
c reasonable security;
d. referrals to other agencies.

2. The shelter shall have written policies for intake of clients and criteria for admitting people to the shelter.

3. The shelter shall maintain an attendance list which includes, at least, the name and sex of each person residing in the shelter.

4. The shelter shall post and read, or otherwise make known, the rules, regulations and procedures of the shelter.

5. The shelter shall post and read, or otherwise make known, the rights and responsibilities of shelter clients that shall include a grievance procedure for addressing potential violations of their rights.

6. The shelter shall report child abuse and endangerment as required by law.

7. The shelter shall only require clients to perform duties directly related to daily living activities within the shelter.

8. The shelter shall provide access to a public or private telephone for use by shelter clients to make and receive calls.

9. The shelter shall maintain records to document services provided to each client.

10. The shelter shall provide accommodations for shelter clients to store personal belongings.

11. The shelter shall provide a safe, secure environment and have policies to regulate access.

12. The shelter shall have a policy regarding the control of weapons.

13. The shelter shall encourage the involvement of clients in the decision making processes of the shelter. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including having resident advisory councils to give input into the operations of the shelter, or having homeless or formerly homeless people on the board, or having homeless or formerly homeless people trained and hired as staff, etc.

14. The shelter shall allow current clients to use the shelter as a legal residence for the purpose of voter registration and the receipt of public benefits.

15. The shelter shall maintain a daily log to record at a minimum all unusual or significant incidents.

16. The shelter shall have written policies for consensual and nonconsensual searches.


Clarification of Standards 4 & 5
- If a shelter is part of a parent organization (i.e. the Salvation Army, Community Action Program, etc.) it is not required to have a separate Board of Directors.

Clarification of Standard 6 - Client records should be kept on file for a period of three years from the time a client enters the shelter. Records for currently employed personnel should be kept on file for as long as the personnel are employed at the shelter. The length of time the records of former personnel should be kept on file is up to the discretion of the shelter's Board of Directors.

Clarification of Standard 8 - Shelter programs that are part of a parent organization are not required to have a policy manual separate from the parent organization's policies as long as those policies include policies relevant to the shelter's operation as well as the rights and responsibilities of the clients being served.

Clarification of Standard 9 - Examples of "an evaluation of the effectiveness of the services offered" should include client input that could take the form of:
* Guest exit survey, or
* House meetings
and may also include:
* Board evaluation of programs/services
* Staff evaluation of programs/services.
* Assessment by other shelter providers (e.g. coalition of providers).

Clarification of Standard 3
- At a minimum, "trained, on-site staff" should be defined as persons having training in those areas listed in the Personnel section, standards 4 and 5 and in the Health section, standards 3 and 4.

Clarification of Standard 3 (cont.) - "Adequate, on-site staff coverage" - While the adequacy of staffing depends, in part, on the population being served, the physical layout of the facility and the time of day, a suggested staff to client ratio during awake hours is 1:25 (for family shelters) and 2:75 (for mass shelters). During sleeping hours, it is suggested that there be a minimum of one staff person on duty, more than this is at the discretion of the program's Board.

Clarification of Standard 4 - "Shelter staff" is defined as all employees (i.e. direct service, finance, maintenance, volunteers, etc.) of the shelter.

Clarification of Standard 5 - "Relevant direct service staff" is defined as those staff members, such as case workers and shelter managers, who have daily, direct contact with clients, and who may be assisting them in resolving their crisis of homelessness. All direct service staff should have updated training in non-violent crisis intervention techniques and first aid procedures every two years. No certain number of hours required. "Training" will be evaluated in the following manner:
a. Review of direct service staff resumes
b. Review of direct service staff records that document continuing education in the areas listed in Standard 5.
c. Review of direct service staff performance appraisals for these areas.

Clarification of Standard 3
- The purpose of this standard is to urge shelters to make efforts in assisting their clients in accessing transportation to the services needed to resolve their crisis of homelessness. A client's access to transportation services will vary depending on the location of the shelter to the services needed. For programs whose location does not afford reasonable access (within walking distance) to services, "reasonable access to transportation services" could include one of the following:
a. Bus fare, or gas money (when client lacks funds), for
housing/employment/welfare appointments; to maintain a child's school attendance; for medical appointments as needed.
b. Assistance via car/van, or coordinated transportation with another agency, to get clients to a bus stop or to the services that are needed by the client.

Clarification of Standard 6 - "Private space" is any space relatively free from constant interruptions and noise, which assures a client that her/his conversation will not be overheard by others in the shelter.

Clarification of Standard 7 - The purpose of this standard is to assist clients in having clean laundry as a means of preserving individual dignity as well as being presentable for appointments related to housing/welfare/employment. Programs that lack "in house" laundry facilities are asked to provide access to "like services" in order to be in compliance with this standard. "A system available for like services" could include one of the following:
a. Transportation to a local laundromat (if not within walking distance)
b. Cash assistance to do laundry (if client lacks income)
c. Coordinated services with another agency/organization.

Clarification of Standard 8b. - Quarterly fire drills are not necessary in shelter programs where clients reside in individual apartment-style units.

Clarification of Standard 8e. - Section 824 of the Ohio Basic Building Code requires that structures, such as shelters, housing individual families, have emergency lighting in all means of egress (i.e. common hallways leading to exits).

Clarification of Standard 3
- For shelters that do not have 24 hour staff coverage, this standard is void at those times where a staff person is not on duty.

Clarification of Standard 7 - If a client can secure prescription medication her/himself (at a minimum - her/his locked room that another client does not have access to), and shelter policies allow for this, then this standard is void. If a client cannot secure their prescription medication, then the shelter should provide a means to secure the medication (i.e. locked office, cabinet, etc.).

Clarification of Standard 8
- "Access to a public or private telephone" should include one of the following:
a. Access to a phone in staff areas
b. Installation of a private phone or pay phone for client use (In cases where a pay phone has been installed, change to conduct necessary business, employment/welfare/housing search, should be provided for those without income)
c. Coordinated service with another agency/organization.

Clarification of Standard 10 - "Accommodations for shelter clients to store personal belongings" can be defined as any place (a client's room, a closet, a locker, etc.) that provides reasonable security from theft or damage. "Personal belongings" include items such as clothing, personal hygiene products, radio, clock that can be consolidated into limited storage space.

 next part - ADMINISTRATION  

 Back to table of contents