Is there a right or wrong way to set up your homeless shelter's beds and other furniture? Does it really matter, or is it based on preference?
Even though you want to provide accommodations for as many people as possible, we believe room arrangements should be influenced by standards of efficiency, safety and comfort.
Here's what we mean...
Many shelters have two components to their mission: 1.) a large community space and 2.) individual rooms. Depending on the facility's location, its mission and the demographics of its guests (men, women and children), having individual rooms is especially important.
On the other hand, it's much easier to stay in tune with your guests' needs if you can see them all in a single community space. You don't have to go to each individual room to evaluate the bedding situation. Everything you need to know about your group (good and bad) is out in the open.
Even if your shelter or mission is short on space, we do not recommend laying nylon or vinyl mattresses side-by-side on the floor. While this may seem like an efficient setup, it's very hard on the fabric, resulting in tears and holes.
In addition, this proximity allows for very little privacy or peace of mind. Imagine if you were asked to sleep so closely to someone you had just met! Individual metal beds are ideal, and metal bunk beds provide another space-friendly, privacy-friendly option.
Because space is often limited, most shelters can't offer a separate room for every few guests. But they can at least offer separate rooms for long-term guests who are enrolled in recovery programs. This setup, which generally includes two beds per room, effectively rewards those who are putting in effort to get out of homelessness.
Another efficient tip is to opt for functional furniture that's versatile and offers plenty of storage. For example, the Platinum Double Wardrobe provides space to hang and stack clothes. Also, the Platinum 4-Drawer Chest serves as a dresser and a nightstand.
By establishing clear policies at your homeless shelter and abiding by them, you can make it a much safer place for everyone spending the night. Here are some common rules most shelters follow:
- Guests should not wander the facility after lights out.
- Men and women should not sleep in the same areas.
- Drug and alcohol use is not permitted.
- Those spending the night must shower before bed.
Many individuals who are homeless will avoid shelters for fear of dealing with bed bugs, having their belongings stolen or feeling unsafe. While providing a roof over someone's head makes a positive difference, homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities shouldn't stop there. They should aspire to provide a comfortable environment. Here are some ways you can ensure your guests are comfortable:
- Blankets. Provide at least two blankets per bed at the shelter. That way, even people who are more than 6 feet tall can cover themselves completely while they sleep.
- Curtains. Keep curtains over the windows in sleeping quarters. Often coming into a shelter can feel like a sacrifice of dignity, and a setting that offers no privacy from passersby on the street, will feel far from comfortable.
- Storage. Adequate storage for personal belongings is a key ingredient in providing comfort and acknowledging the humanity component of running a shelter. A simple chest that slides under the bed is a great option.
- Quiet. Guests will do much better if they have a place where they know they can have some peace and quiet. If everyone sleeps and stores their belongings in a community room, consider having a chapel, a garden or another setting where people can get away when they need to.
Back to the basics
Proper bedding is a basic necessity for any homeless shelter. Here are the types of products other homeless shelters are outfitting their facilities with:
To learn more about those products or others from American Bedding, contact us online, give us a call, or click on the banner below to download our catalog.