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What is a Low Barrier Shelter?

This is a question from our Q&A series connected by Infotech.

Low-barrier shelters are built around the idea that programs should fit the needs of the people they serve, rather than trying to make the people served fit the needs of the program. As the only low-barrier shelter in North Florida, GRACE serves our guests regardless of whether someone has income, or is struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues.

Think of making a call to the doctor's office. It wouldn't make much sense for the doctor to tell you, "As soon as you're not sick anymore, you can come to my office," would it? Likewise, the problems people show up with aren't a reason to deny them services. Instead, they're the first things we work on with them en route to getting them housed as quickly as possible.

"Low-barrier" doesn't mean 'no rules." Instead, rules are designed to promote health and safety. In short, a good low-barrier shelter makes accommodations for the "4 Ps:" people, property, partners, and pets. This best practice increases access to critical services, reduces time spent homeless, and ensures the most vulnerable members of our community have access to safe lodging while working with advocates to help them find someplace to call home.


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