How to Start a Homeless Shelter

You can help your fellow man and be your greater community by starting a homeless shelter. Besides a kind and compassionate spirit, homeless shelters require resourceful and level-minded staff to create a sustainable environment that will provide for the poor and the needy. Starting or working in a homeless shelter will not only provide those in need with food and a roof, it will enable you to find a fulfilling position [source: Rasmussen]. Read the tips listed below and learn about how to start a homeless shelter.

  1. Location One of the first steps in starting a homeless shelter is to find a large and viable location to hold those staying there. Advertise your cause in the local news media. Approach churches and other houses of worship to see if any are willing to provide the space. Contact property owners of minimally used or abandoned spaces. If you can't find donors, you may have to consider renting a location and paying for it through donations and grants.
  2. Paperwork Though starting a homeless shelter can be done with the truest of intentions, it's still a business and it must hold a business license and other necessary paperwork in order to operate legally. Contact your local courthouse or other shelters to find out what paperwork you will need in order to operate a shelter that can legally receive donations and government grants.
  3. Request donations Visit your local supermarkets, drugstores, home furnishing and hardware stores. Ask them to donate their goods to your homeless shelter. Remember to approach big name stores. They have donation budgets that often go unused, and they might be willing to contribute to your cause.
  4. Find volunteers Homeless shelters run efficiently because of the help of volunteers. Ask your friends and family to help distribute goods and serve food at the shelter. Approach community centers, schools and religious institutions to find people willing to work at making your shelter operate smoothly [source: Zakat].