Hospital-to-shelter/housing interventions for persons experiencing homelessness

March 23, 2022

Canham, S.L., Humphries, J., Seetharaman, K., Custodio, K., Mauboules, C., Good, C., Lupick, D., & Bosma, H. (2022). Hospital-to-shelter/housing interventions for persons experiencing homelessness. International Journal on Homelessness, 2(1), 136-151. doi:10.5206/ijoh.2022.1.13455    

Full Article


Persons with lived and living experiences of homelessness (PWLEs) commonly use hospitals and emergency departments to access healthcare yet support for transitions from hospital to shelter/housing can be challenging to access. To improve the continuity of care and health outcomes for PWLEs who are being discharged from hospital, a more complete understanding of two hospital-to-shelter/housing programs in Metro Vancouver, Canada was sought. Using a community-based participatory research approach, we conducted in-depth interviews in-person or by phone. Participants included eight healthcare and shelter/housing decision-makers and providers and a convenience sample of ten program participants (two females and eight males who ranged in age from 31 to 74 years old; average = 50 years old). Data were analyzed in NVivo 12 to identify successes including: 1) achieving health stability and recovery following hospital discharge; 2) having privacy and freedom while in the program; 3) building relationships with providers; 4) having formal support to find housing; and 5) cross-sector relationships between providers. Challenges included: 1) limited availability of affordable and appropriate housing; 2) other guests’ ways of life; 3) complex needs versus limited after-care resources; and 4) inequities in program access. While hospital-to-shelter/housing programs can serve as intervention opportunities to connect PWLEs to permanent housing, discharge plans need to acknowledge the local limitations on housing availability and offer short-term options for patients who require sub-acute rest and convalescence.