Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

Shelter Services (PA-SH) 5: The Rights of Service Recipients

The agency respects individuals’ rights, dignity, and values.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: SHELTER SERVICES (PA-SH)



Shelter Services meet the basic needs of individuals and families who are homeless or in transition, support family stabilization or independent living, and facilitate access to services and permanent housing.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Program rules
  • Procedures regarding opening mail of persons served
  • Expulsion policy
  • Expulsion procedures
  • Information regarding service recipients’ rights
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Persons served
  • Review case records

Fundamental Practice

PA-SH 5.01

Stays in the program are voluntary, unless legally mandated.

Fundamental Practice

PA-SH 5.02

The use of services beyond the provision of shelter is voluntary and is not required as a condition of stay.


PA-SH 5.03

The environment promotes a non-threatening, welcoming, and inclusive approach, and fosters trust and engagement for all service recipients.


Programs should provide an affirming, safe and welcoming environment for all individuals. Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming (LGBT) are greatly overrepresented among youth experiencing homelessness, and are at higher risk for verbal, physical, and sexual harassment and assault. Programs can help to signal that they provide an environment that is safe and welcoming, for example, by posting “visual cues” in the reception or common area, such as a nondiscrimination policy or LGBTQ symbols (i.e., posters, stickers, and flags), and ensuring that the environment is free from homophobic and transphobic language.
Note: Please see the Facility Observation Checklist for additional guidance on this standard.


PA-SH 5.04

Program rules are developed with the participation of service recipients.

Fundamental Practice

PA-SH 5.05

The agency does not open mail received by a resident unless a previous incident involving the resident indicates that:
  1. the mail is suspected of containing unauthorized, dangerous, or illegal material or substances, in which case it may be opened by the resident in the presence of designated personnel; or
  2. receiving or sending unopened mail is contraindicated.

Fundamental Practice

PA-SH 5.06

Written expulsion policies and procedures:
  1. are provided at intake;
  2. are clear and simple, avoiding overly rigid and bureaucratic language and rules;
  3. define specific behaviors, conditions, or circumstances that may result in expulsion, and limit expulsion to extreme situations;
  4. include timely due process provisions;
  5. describe the conditions or process for re-admission to the program; and
  6. require all reasonable efforts be made to prevent exits to unsheltered locations.
Examples: Examples of reasons for expulsion include when a service recipient exhibits severely disruptive behavior or is violent toward self or others.