Recommendations for a More Inclusive Shelter System

Recommendations for a More Inclusive Shelter System

Physical accessibility

  • Ensure that all public areas of shelters (e.g., entrance, kitchen, bathrooms, common and sleeping areas) are accessible to participants with disabilities including vision impairments, deaf and hard of hearing, physical and mental health disabilities, severe allergies and chemical sensitivities, and developmental disabilities.
  • Broken stair lifts/elevators should be fixed as soon as possible so as to minimize disruption. Alternative accommodations should be made available during times when the primary shelter is inaccessible.
  • Provide lockers in an accessible area and equip participant with personal locks to secure their property.

Programmatic accessibility

  • Staff should be trained on how to interact with people with disabilities in a respectful and inclusive way.
  • Actively engage with participants who have disabilities to identify and offer opportunities that engage them with the services and supports that will facilitate their recovery and long-term stability.
  • Ensure all programs, services, and activities offered by the shelter occur in accessible areas and are welcoming to people with disabilities.
  • As appropriate, connect participants with disabilities with:

Clear processes for requesting reasonable accommodations and/or medical exemptions

  • Have a written policy in place about accessibility and the need for reasonable accommodations and train all staff on those policies.
  • Make available a streamlined process for participants to request reasonable accommodations relating to their disability – accommodations which might include access to sleeping areas during off-hours or access to designated quiet spaces.
  • Designate a trained staff member to assist participants with the process if needed.

Dry shelter options

  • Drug, chemical, and alcohol-free shelter options should be made available to participants who request them.

DRC-NH, in collaboration with the UNH Institute on Disability and the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities, distribute a quarterly RAP sheet to educate community members and policy makers about the latest research, policy, practice, and advocacy issues affecting individuals with disabilities and their families.


Latest RAP Sheet