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Quality standards

Below you will find the Quality Standards that NMCEH uses for Emergency Shelters, Transitional Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing, and Day Programs. These Standards were adopted September 16, 2005 and are required as standards for all partner providers we work with. Minimum Standards listed first under each category are the bare minimum standards for agencies helping the homeless.  Recommended Standards are a higher level of service that agencies are requested to strive for.

The purpose of these standards are:

1) To clarify the rights and responsibilities of residents and service providers;

2) To promote upgrading of the relatively few programs which do not achieve these minimum standards;

3) To promote the use of best practices as reflected in the recommended standards;

4) To enhance the dignity, safety, health, and comfort of residents, and to strengthen their ability to move toward stability and self-maintenance;

5) To clarify the expectations for public funding of homeless service agencies so that the public, grant makers, policy makers and program monitors can have reliable criteria for evaluations.

There are two primary self-policing methods for maintaining these standards:

1) The diligence of the agency provider staff and board of directors;

2) An internal complaint resolution process at each facility.


homeless person

There are several definitions of a homeless person that an agency may be required to follow depending on the federal funding sources they use.  Below are the two slightly different definitions used by the U.S, Department of Housing and Urban Development and by the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a homeless person is someone who is living on the street or in an emergency shelter, or who would be living on the street or in an emergency shelter without supportive housing assistance. A person is considered homeless only when he/she resides in one of the places described below:

-       In places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, abandoned buildings (on the street).

-       In an emergency shelter

-       In transitional or supportive housing for homeless persons who originally came from the streets or emergency shelters.

-       In any of the above places but is spending a short time (up to 30 consecutive days) in a hospital or other institution.

-       Is being evicted within a week from a private dwelling unit and no subsequent residence has been identified and the person lacks               the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing.

-       Is being discharged within a week from an institution, such as a mental health or substance abuse treatment facility or a jail/prison,

           in which the person has been a resident for more than 30 consecutive days and no subsequent residence has been identified and

           the person lacks the resources and support networks needed to obtain housing.

-       Is fleeing a domestic violence housing situation and no subsequent residence has been identified and the person lacks the resources

           and support networks needed to obtain housing.


The U.S. Department of Education defines “homeless children and youth” as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes children and youth who are:


-       sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as


-       living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations;

-       living in emergency or transitional shelters;

-       abandoned in hospitals; or

-       awaiting foster care placement;

-       Children and youth who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as,

           a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings;

-       Children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations,

           or similar settings; and

-       Migratory children who qualify as homeless because they are living in circumstances described above.

emergency shelter

An emergency shelter provides temporary emergency lodging for homeless individuals and/or families. It provides at a minimum the basic needs of a place to sleep, humane care, a clean environment, reasonable security, and referrals to other agencies. Most emergency shelters provide additional support services, including meals, case management, counseling, advocacy and help with future plans.

transitional housing

A transitional facility provides housing for previously homeless persons or families who indicate a willingness to participate in developing and implementing a case plan which has an eventual goal of independent living. A transitional facility may charge a rent or program fee clearly described in advance.

permanent supportive housing

A permanent supportive housing program provides long term housing for previously homeless individuals or families where the head of the household suffers from a long-term disability.  A permanent supportive housing program provides support services that meet the needs of the disabled residents.  Residents of permanent supportive housing programs typically pay a portion of their income as rent.

day program

A day program for the homeless provides a safe place for homeless individuals or families to be during the day.  Day programs usually provide food, showers, laundry, and referrals to other services.  They may also provide case management and more in-depth services.


For the purposes of these standards, facility means any organization owned or managed property or program including congregate or scattered site housing.

A. Administration

Mandatory standards

1. Our organization (faith-based or otherwise) states that it is operated by a non-profit corporation or public agency.

2. If fees are collected, they are clearly stated prior to intake and agreed upon in writing by both the beneficiary and the organization.

3. Our facility has a policy statement, which includes the facility’s purpose, population served and program descriptions.

4. Our facility has space designated for securing client files in order to ensure client confidentiality.

5. Our facility clearly posts the method for making a grievance.

6. Our organization has procedures to protect the confidentiality of client records.

7. Our organization has a policy forbidding conflict of interest for staff and Board members.

8. Our organization collaborates with other organizations.

9. The Executive Director is not the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

10. The Board of Directors is not primarily made up of family members and/or staff persons.

recommended standards

1. Our facility has an organizational chart delineating the administrative responsibility of all persons working in the facility.

2. Our facility has established written protocols to guide staff actions and program services regarding injury and disease prevention within the facility setting. Our facility maintains up-to-date statements on its policies regarding HIV/AIDS, mandatory implementation of universal precautions, and control of tuberculosis as per the Department of Health guidelines.

3. Members of our Board of Directors serve as volunteers and are not compensated except for reasonable travel reimbursements for attending Board functions.

4. Our facility uses a professional accounting system.

5. There is a monthly income/expense report and report of services provided.

6. There is an annual outside audit by a reputable firm.

7. Our organization is registered with the IRS as a nonprofit organization and with the New Mexico Attorney General

B. Personnel

Mandatory standards

1.     Our facility has retained on-site staff persons (paid or volunteer) to provide a safe and humane environment during all hours the facility is open to the residents.

2.     Our organization practices equal opportunity employment and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, religion, race, color, national origin, disability, veterans' status, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

3.     Our staff models appropriate behavior.  Clients and staff are treated with dignity and respect by staff.

recommended standards

1. Our facility’s staff has been trained in emergency evacuation, first aid procedures, reporting of abuse and neglect, crisis intervention, and CPR procedures, and receives on-going in-service training in counseling skills and handling tensions in a non-violent manner.

2. Our facility has an organized method of selecting and training all volunteers and paid staff. Also, volunteers have job descriptions and identifiable lines of authority.

3. Our facility has staff, to the extent possible, who can communicate in the language of our residents.

4. Our facility’s staff and volunteers receive training on relevant community resources and social service programs.

5. Our facility’s staff is identifiable.

6. Our organization conducts background checks on staff who will be working with children.

c. operations

Mandatory standards

1. Our facility has a clearly defined policy about the possession of weapons on site.

2. Our facility has clearly defined policies on the use and possession of alcohol and illegal drugs.

3. Our facility shall provide a clean, safe, and healthy environment, which is consistent with conventional social services and which respects individual needs and human dignity.

4. Our facility has written policies for intake procedures and criteria for admitting people to our facility.

5. Our facility provides all residents with, and posts in a conspicuous place, a copy of our house rules and regulations, and a copy of the disciplinary and grievance procedures.

6. Our facility keeps a daily office log which documents the activities of each shift, and any unusual or special situations and instructions regarding residents. (shelters only)

7. Our facility maintains a daily census, listing residents, employees and volunteers.  (shelters only)

8. Our facility refers people to the appropriate agency or referral service if we cannot provide shelter or a needed service.

recommended standards

1.     Our facility posts and/or explains laws related to children and adult protective service laws.

2.     Our facility allows residents, during their period of stay, to report the facility address as their legal residence for legal purposes such as receipt of mail, school registration, and voter registration.

3.     Our organization supports client’s choice and self determination in pursuing services, treatment options, etc.

4.     Our facility provides access to, a phone and a computer with internet access which residents can use.

5.     Our facility has separate family rooms that allows for intact families to stay together.

6.     Our facility will protect our residents confidentiality by not disclosing their participation in or residence at our program without their express written consent.

D. Health

Mandatory standards

1. Our facility has available, at all times, first aid equipment, supplies and established procedures for medical emergencies.

2. Our facility has provisions for storing, refrigerating, and retrieving residents’ medications.

3. Our facility refers residents to a medical facility or clinic for needed health examinations, emergency treatment, and follow-up visits.

4. Our facility promptly and appropriately responds to medical problems with residents and staff.

5. Our staff receives regular training and is knowledgeable about common physical problems of homeless people and how to obtain needed services.

recommended standards

1.     Our facility has at least one staff person on duty who is trained in emergency first aid procedures.

E. Food

Mandatory standards

1.     Our facility has made adequate provisions for the sanitary storage and preparation of any food provided.

recommended standards

1. Our facility provides residents with one well-balanced meal daily, either on site, or readily accessible off site, or by providing do it yourself food preparation facilities.

2. Our facility makes a reasonable effort to meet medically appropriate dietary needs of all residents.

3. Our facility provides food buying and menu planning by a staff member, consultant or volunteer knowledgeable in nutrition.

4. A sanitation inspection by the Health Department is done at our facility periodically.

F. Equipment & Environment

Mandatory standards

1. Our facility is clean and complies with all applicable building, safety and health codes.

2. Our facility has an adequate ventilation system.

3. Our facility has a housekeeping and maintenance plan to ensure a safe, sanitary, clean, and comfortable environment, and works actively to eliminate insect and rodent infestations.

4. Our facility has a sufficient supply of functionally clean and reasonably private toilets and wash basins, with hot and cold running water when the facility is open.

5. Our facility, if an emergency shelter, provides towels, soap, and toilet tissues.

6. Our facility, if an emergency shelter, has bathing facilities for our residents.

7. All scattered site housing units meet Housing Quality Standards.

recommended standards

1. Our facility provides each person with at least a bed, mat or cot (or crib for infants whenever possible), and a blanket, both of which are clean and in good repair.

2. Our facility provides clients with reasonable access to public transportation.

3. Our facility has laundry facilities available to residents, or access to laundry facilities nearby.

4. Our facility, if an emergency shelter, provides storage for checking in/out residents’ personal belongings during their stay in our facility.

5. Our facility provides a dining area separate from the sleeping areas, as appropriate to the type of facility.

g. safety

Mandatory standards

1. Our facility has an emergency plan covering fire, flood, and other disasters.

2. Our facility has a fire-life safety system including posting of an evacuation plan and all items as required by building, safety, and health codes.

3. Our facility has a phone available 24 hours per day to contact the fire department, paramedics, police, and site supervisor personnel, and posts a list of such emergency numbers.

4. Our facility has a security plan to deter theft and resident harm.

recommended standards

1. Our facility provides on-site security to ensure the safety of our residents and our neighbors, if appropriate.

h. grievances

Mandatory standards

1. Our facility has adopted a grievance procedure, which is clearly posted in a place visible to clients.

recommended standards

1. Our agency includes in its grievance procedure a way for clients to report their grievance to a third party that can work with the client and the agency to resolve the grievance.

I. Program Services

Mandatory standards

1. Facility residents have the right to receive stated services without regard to race, religion, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, color, sexual orientation, disability or familial status, except when age and gender of people served are determined by the agency’s mission.

2. Our facility has as one of its primary purposes to help end or prevent homelessness for its program participants.  We recognize many methodologies in achieving this mission and support our participants’ choice in determining their own path.

recommended standards

1. Emergency shelters have policies that set the length of stay for clients based on their individual needs that allows working people to earn at least two pay checks during their stay and allows disabled residents to stay long enough to start receiving disability benefits, or to access permanent supportive housing.

2. All programs should have case management services that connect people with all of the services and benefits they need.

3. Transitional housing programs should strive to place at least 80% of their residents in permanent housing at the end of their stay.

4. Permanent supportive housing programs should have intensive services that meet the complex needs of the disabled homeless including services for mental health needs and substance abuse, and should strive to keep more than 80% of their residents housed for at least six months.

5. Permanent supportive housing programs should strive to emulate the Housing First model as much as possible, which means being equipped to accept clients directly from the streets and providing intensive services that meet the residents need for substance abuse treatment and mental health care without making compliance with a particular treatment program a requirement for staying housed.

6. Day programs for the homeless should provide intensive case management services that can help their clients obtain SSI and other public benefits that they may be entitled to, and be able to refer homeless people to a variety of services.

7. These policies have been approved by the organizations Board of Directors.

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