Safe Havens'

‘Safe Haven’, as defined in the HUD Supportive Housing Program, is a form of supportive housing that serves hard-to-reach homeless persons with severe mental illness who come primarily from the streets and have been unable or unwilling to participate in housing or supportive services.

Safe Havens were set up to offer low-entry threshold accommodation for those with long term needs that were unlikely to change, nor was there any expectation that individuals would move on. Typically offering ‘congregated’ care, there would be social support and activities, but with a low expectation of engagement or compliance.

Havens can therefore be seen as the precursors of what later became the Housing First approach, with the exception that for contemporary HF schemes it is dispersed rather than congregated housing that is widely seen as the preferred model.

The closest equivalent, in UK terms, is probably the residential care home. This is a form of staffed congregated living, for people with high and/or enduring dependency needs, that was developed in the decade before the Supporting People programme `(sic) created new possibilities for more flexible 'supported accommodation' The main differences are:

  • residents are not necessarily (or event typically) come from homelessness, but are simply in need of more wrap-around care; and .
  • care homes cover all social care/vulnerable client groups, including children and adolescents, the inform elderly, and people with severe learning difficulties and dementia
  • care homes are registered with the statutory framework, funding arrangements and regulatory regime for 'care', which in the UK is technically distinct for 'support', and from other forms of supported accommodation.


Although services may still be funded from local budgets, current federal government policy does not favour the creation of new Safe Havens, but allows continued funding for those already in existence, all be it with a tighter expectation that they then conform to HF principles.  Safe haven projects so defined are for literally homeless (as defined in the CoC Program) individuals

  1. who reside on the streets or places not meant for human habitation and
  2. who have severe and persistent mental illness.

To continue to be renewed as a Safe Haven, the project:

  • Must be located in a facility, meaning a structure, or structures, or clearly identifiable portion of a structure or structures;
  • Must allow 24-hour residence for an unspecified duration;
  • Must have private or semi-private accommodations;
  • Must limit overnight occupancy to no more than 25 persons;
  • Must prohibit the use of illegal drugs in the facility;
  • Must provide access to needed services in a low demand facility, but cannot require program participants to utilize them; and
  • May include a drop-in center as part of outreach activities.

Other key issues, pages and documents

HUD definition and conditions for renewal of HUD funding for Safe Havens : HERE


American PIE?  HERE

Interim Housing : HERE

Reimagining Interim Housing  - Stages and Action Areas for Transforming Approaches to Sheltering People Experiencing Homelessness : HERE

  • Reimagining Interim Housing (supplement): tools for strengthening current Interim Housing programmes and services : HERE
  • (For the full documentation and further links on Re-imagining shelter' : HERE)

Responding to the Growing Crisis of Unsheltered Homelessness and Encampments : HERE

Assistance Animals and Fair Housing - Navigating Reasonable Accommodations : HERE

Housing First and PIEs - how do they work together? : HERE

Pre-treatment : HERE

  • The core skills of engagement : HERE

The lasting legacy of Supporting People (UK) : HERE

Psychologically Informed Environments in Adult Residential Care : HERE

Seniors and other long-term support needs (UK): HERE


Library items

One HUD, for all' (2022-26 strategic plan) : HERE

Scaling Up Online Tools to End Homelessness : HERE