The dangers that can occur when living in homeless shelters

Updated November 21, 2016

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, from 2007 to 2009, the number of families in homeless shelters reached 170,000. Clearly, homeless shelters provide a need that is vital for people without homes, living on the streets -- "in the rough." While homeless shelters have the noblest of intentions, many lack the funding and security that they truly need, causing some homeless people to experience the dangers that can occur when living in homeless shelters.


Some homeless shelters are designed specifically for women and children; however, space is sometimes limited, and women are forced to choose between staying in a co-ed shelter or sleeping on the street. Both adult females and young girls stand the chance of being raped at night in some co-ed shelters. If the shelter is overcrowded, then staff and security can't keep an eye on everyone.


Not all homeless people are in the exact same situation: some are newly homeless while others have been on the streets for years. Homeless people who carry around a certain amount of possessions may be afraid to sleep in homeless shelters because others might steal the few items they still have. Human predators who literally have nothing may steal gloves, coats or tiny amounts of money from other people trying to get some sleep in the shelter.


Homeless shelters may lack proper security. When a roomful of tired, hungry and cold people get together, then it doesn't take much for one person to get out of line and for a fight to break out. People can get hurt or even killed when guns or knives are involved. Sometimes mentally ill people in homeless shelters who cannot afford their medication can lash out at others for no reason at all.

Sickness and Disease

Since homeless people lack medical care, a homeless shelter can be filled with people with colds and the flu and other sicknesses. These people are sleeping in close quarters, so the odds of passing germs around the room is great. Some homeless people may not even realise that they have a disease -- sexually transmitted diseases, HIV -- and may pass the disease on to other people who they meet through unprotected sex or shared needle use.

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About the Author

Valerie Tandoi began writing professionally in 2004. She has been published in various print and online media outlets including: "New Jersey Business Magazine," "South Jersey Mom Magazine," "ASA-Dix Newspaper," "Happy Woman Magazine" and others. She also creates print and Web content for businesses. Tandoi holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Caldwell College and currently lives in New Jersey.