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Safe Haven Programs
Analysis of Strategies and Operating Practices, July 2005

This study analyzed the operating practices at Safe Haven programs throughout the U.S. Safe Haven programs house the chronically homeless, mentally ill population. While Safe Havens serve an important and especially needy segment of the population, minimal research to assist Safe Haven operators has been completed. Our research indicates there are approximately 100-150 Safe Havens currently operating in the U.S. Of this universe, 79 participated in this comprehensive study.

The objectives of the study were as follows:

  • Evaluate Safe Haven program operating practices
  • Increase the awareness of this important and especially needy segment of the population
  • Assist Safe Haven operators in their efforts to make changes and implement improvements to their programs
  • Assist communities that plan to establish Safe Havens and want to benefit from the experiences of existing Safe Haven programs

Key Conclusions
Safe Haven programs appear to be generally effective at retaining residents and keeping them engaged in the program for, on average, approximately nine months. Safe Haven programs report a number of variations in the structure of their programs and expectations of residents. While slightly over half of Safe Haven residents go on to some kind of permanent housing, 35% of residents return to homelessness, temporary health institutions, criminal justice institutions or unknown destinations. Because a number of Safe Haven programs do not pro-actively track residents for any long-term period (i.e., one year or more) once they leave their program, it is difficult to draw any long-term conclusions about the impact that many Safe Haven programs have on their residents.

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