What is Homelessness Diversion?

Some households seeking homeless shelter have reached a tipping point. They may still be in an apartment but on the verge of eviction, utility shutoff, or another crisis. Their options seem to have narrowed to finding a safe place for the night. But once they enter a shelter program, regaining housing becomes harder. Eviction records, rental debt, and lack of affordable housing options make applying for new housing difficult. Even under the best circumstances, the process takes months and puts more demands on clients and BEDS time and resources.

Our Diversion program intervenes at this critical moment. Case managers work with clients to find alternatives to shelter and provide financial assistance to carry them out. Diversion strategies differ from client to client, but common examples include:
  • Conflict mediation between clients and landlords
  • Connection to support outside the homeless assistance system such as the Veterans' Administration
  • Finding stable housing arrangements with family members and friends
  • Family reunification (Image seen here, view from an Amtrak train traveling across the country)
  • Immediate housing search assistance
  • Short term financial support for:
    • Grocery/utility payments
    • Grocery/utility payments to family and friends
    • Transportation to out-of-town housing with family and friends
Diversion gives us and our clients the opportunity to be creative. Standard homeless service models have strict limits on program strategies and outcomes, including what financial assistance can support. Diversion gives clients the opportunity to draw on their own networks and resources for solutions to their crises and the ability to make those solutions happen. Last year, BEDS diverted 83 households away from shelters. We expect the need for the program to continue growing.

You can support our Diversion program here.