How We Work

Maslow's Model 

Helping HandUps approach is to first establish trust while delivering quality services that support the basic needs hierarchy identified by Abraham Maslow. Maslow’s finding, considered by many to be the biggest contributions to psychology in the 20th Century, focuses on five primary needs categories illustrated in the pyramid drawing shown here. Addressing each of these building blocks in order starting with the foundational physiological needs through to self-actualization are the keys to successfully addressing the conditions that exasperate the chronically homeless.


We have found in our work with the homeless over the years is that they create an environment that minimally satisfies the first three bottom levels. Tent or tarp communities spring up that attempt to satisfy physiological, safety, and community needs. The sense of community and safety is often a barrier to accepting alternatives supplied by providers that serve the homeless community. 

Helping HandUps has executed a successful plan that empowers their clients by providing a cohesive pathway to satisfying the five basic human needs illustrated in Maslow’s model. This approach will accelerate the restoration of previously homeless individuals to a productive and personally rewarding life that often includes renewed familial relationships. Our method will begin with developing a relationship with the at-risk individual at the street level in order to gain a thorough understanding of their needs through our induction and evaluation process

Evaluation & Assesment

Each homeless case is complex and multifaceted. Support often is achievable by the level of trust the person in need has in the government system and with the individual service providers. We begin with in-field outreach where personal contact information is gathered from every party connected to an individual case. We evaluate both the needs of the person(s) as well as their desire to make a permanent change to their lives.

The evaluation process begins with getting to know the individual and establishing trust through compassion and action. We establish a connection to them by visiting them consistently and following through with commitments such as delivering on-site food or other supportive services. Once we have established a trusting relationship, we begin to screen and probe for needs such as:

  1. Communication: Clients will need the ability to drive their own restoration to society which requires access to a mobile phone.
  2. Legal Document Replacement: Birth Certificate, Identification & Social Security Card. These are often lost and required to receive most services and for employment. Helping HandUps provides support to get these items replaced free of charge.
  3. Financial Aid: WIC, EBT & General Relief. Most of the homeless qualify for these services to assist them in getting basic needs met. We facilitate the enrolment process.
  4. Stable Mailing Address: We offer our corporate office as a mailing address in order to assist clients with receiving critical documentation.
  5. Meals & Showers: HHU offers through our resource partners remote meal and shower services in order to address immediate needs as well as to establish trust.

  6. Transportation: HHU will arrange for either bus passes or shuttle services through our resource partners.

  7. Emergency Shelter: Induction into a temporary staging area such as the Intervention Care Facility or suitable shelter will offer our clients a safe place to live while we formulate their next steps which include among other things skill assessments for potential job placement.

Intervention Care Facilities

Helping HandUps plans to operate these triage temporary staging sites that can fit within a 1,000 square foot area. These are designed to provide immediate short-term intervention for those who want to get off the streets and change their lives. These transitional centers will be low barrier first step off the street and serve as a means towards permanent housing with or without supportive services.


Field counselors will interview and screen subjects currently living on the street, open a case for willing individuals that defines what their individual needs are. Then the field agent will refer them to this facility once the worker feels they pose no threat to themselves or others.

Helping HandUps transportation team and partners will transport the client together with their belongings, significant other, and care animal if they exist.

  • Communities can be scaled up to address demand. 
  • Sample configuration consists of 20 tough shed type housing units within an area measuring approximately  100 feet by 100 feet with a 40-person capacity.  
  • Each facility will have security fencing with 24/7-armed guard coverage to maintain order. 
  • Compounds will include a unit designed for meetings, cooking, and dining; showers; porta-potties; bike racks; fresh and grey water tanks to support the showers. 
  • Power delivered via a battery with solar or generator back up support. A skylight provides natural lighting by day to each housing and multipurpose unit. 
  • These units can be built on longer 40 to 50 foot long towable sections that can be brought onsite and scaled according to need. Each smaller unit would use natural colling via a window, while the larger trailers would forced air colling and heat.       
  • Each living unit will be lockable configured with 2 beds to house 2 single males or females or accommodate couples with or without children or pets.
  • Units have separate individual lockable storage cabinets to store clothes and personal belongings.

  • A desk will be provided so individuals can work on training or receive private treatment by a caseworker.

  • The multipurpose unit will facilitate training and other service deliveries.

  • General meeting area for dining and socialization.

  • Private interviews, counseling, and treatment rooms for scheduled sessions.

  • Mobile medical, optometric, psychological, and pet treatment units can be positioned outside the facility.

  • Kitchen area for individual or group meals with refrigerator and storage area.

  • Internet cloud-based services accessed via a thin-client powered workstation to facilitate communication.

  • The current design includes 4 dressing room shower combinations.
  • Shower water to be heated via a solar-powered water heater.
  • Freshwater and grey water tanks would be positioned to support the showers.
  • This design concept can be replaced with a larger mobile trailer unit that can accommodate a larger community.
  • Porta-potties would be positioned behind the showers.
  • Trailer supported combination shower/restrooms could also be pulled into the facility and used.

These centralized, emergency, temporary, segregated, and secured shelter facilities are designed to simultaneously stabilize the person(s) in need while relocating them off the street. These individual dwelling units will provide the flexibility that is currently missing to support couples or pets while providing a safe environment to deliver mobilized services and to process client cases.


Client cases that are developed here will follow the subject(s) and be tracked through to completion in order to measure success while providing direct feedback in order to modify methods to ensure success.

Mobilized Personal Care

  • Mobile medical, optometric, psychological evaluations will be provided by public and private organizations on site. 
  • Pet spaying, neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, and pet education will be made available.

  • Medicare/Medi-cade enrollments through a mobile health bus will facilitate treatments and medication delivery.

  • Spiritual guidance and support will be provided to begin the healing process and provide guidance.

  • Independent living classes are offered to support the transition back into society as well as reunification with family members.

  • Clients will receive haircuts, have access to makeup and other personal hygiene items to support their transition off of the street as well as to support the rebuilding of their self-esteem. 

  • Helping HandUps will work with government agencies to secure state ID and social security cards, birth certificates, set up email addresses if our client doesn't have one, provide a cell phone to facilitate treatment, and a mailing address for document delivery.

  • Solace Foundation of Orange County provides staff training for the legal administration of Naloxone.

  • Law enforcement assistance is provided by Public Defender’s Office

  • Resume support, job training and placement provided by Chrysalis

  • Transitional housing support is provided by HIS House, Families Forward, Illumination Foundation, and Pathways of Hope.

Ultimately, Helping HandUps' goal is to design and construct permanent supportive housing that is uniquely tailored to specific groups. More about this in the next section. 

Supportive Housing with Services & Employment

Helping HandUps intends to team up with local architects and contractors to develop and build permanent housing with embedded supportive services that include an employment center. Some configurations can also include street-level suites for retail businesses that can be staffed with graduates of the program.


Since most of the homeless population does not own vehicles unless they were previously living in them, the continuation of medical and training services would be delivered onsite by employed staff or via mobile delivery. These communities will provide quality shelter while delivering services that contribute to our client’s rehabilitation back into society.

Helping HandUps intends that a section of the housing facility would be used for employment and training. A business center will be established onsite where residents can work. Many of the homeless have impressive skill sets that can be used to support themselves, with the profits used to offset facility operational expenses.  Contracts can be negotiated with both public and private sector employers who might receive tax benefits and possible wage differentials. Local taxing authorities could also receive employment and use tax revenue. Potential business opportunities could be:


  • Call Centers: Many of the homeless have previous customer-facing backgrounds and can be trained to handle level 1 inbound or outbound service call support.
  • Rental Space: County, state, and city supportive service agencies can locate staff offices here.
  • Light Assembly or Manufacturing: Companies that need products assembled, packaged, and shipped. 

As discussed earlier, and where appropriate, bottom floor suites can be developed to support retail trade. Some of the businesses located in these suites may be owned by non-profits or private companies that may employ some of the formerly homeless individuals who’ve been rehabilitated. Other establishments might be local restaurant chains or other appropriate retail trades. 


Surrounding grounds would lend themselves to both aesthetics as well as continued rehabilitation and improvements in quality of life such as DIY gardens and an activity center. The upper floors of these facilities should be guarded with access limited to residents, tenants, and workers. Guests would be signed in or registered electronically.

Standards & Certifications

It is critical that any resource or service we provide to our clients serves to reinforce their rehabilitation in a positive, safe, and humane way. Helping hand Ups will evaluate every shelter and resource that we personally manage or enters into our referral system to make sure these general shelter guidelines are followed:

1.) Dignity and respect: 

  • Does our emergency shelter consistently implement practices to meet people where they are and provide person-centered care that focuses on personal strengths?
  • Do our policies or value statements convey clear expectations that shelter guests will be treated with dignity and respect, and does the shelter monitor adherence to these expectations?
  • Are the expectations of shelter guests clearly communicated and easily accessible for review by guests?
  • Do we have specific practices that help ensure that the shelter exhibits cultural competency and provides appropriate protections for shelter seekers across demographic differences?
  • Does the shelter set only minimal and reasonable requirements for shelter guests, and does the shelter enforce these requirements in a fair and transparent way?
  • Does the shelter involve shelter guests in governance and operations?

2.) Divert People from the Homelessness Service System When Possible

  • Does our community’s diversion approach include, when needed, financial assistance, mediation, housing location, legal assistance, or other supports such as training and employment support?
  • Do mainstream programs play a role in supporting shelter seekers and diversion efforts?

3.) Adopt a Housing First Approach and Create Low-Barrier Access to Emergency Shelter

  • Does our emergency shelter have minimal expectations or requirements of people seeking shelter?
  • Does our emergency shelter focus on addressing disruptive or dangerous behaviors rather than compliance to rules or case plans?
  • Does our shelter welcome self-defined family and kinship groups to seek shelter together?
  • Can our emergency shelter identify financial resources that can support the adoption of low-barrier policies and practices and support extended or flexible hours and adapted service-delivery models?
  • Does our shelter accommodate pets and belongings?
  • Does our shelter intake process and housing navigation services coordinate closely with community-based outreach services and coordinated entry?
  • Does our shelter create flexible and predictable access for people seeking shelter?

4.) Use Emergency Shelter Stays as a Platform for Housing Access

  • Does our emergency shelter provide immediate assistance and link guests with housing options?
  • Does our emergency shelter use data routinely to detect trends, identify frequent users, and monitor housing success and other performance measures?
  • Does our emergency shelter provide population-specific supports, as appropriate, and does it promote safety and reduce risk for all shelter guests?
  • Does our emergency shelter coordinate with the broader homelessness service and housing systems in system-level planning?
  • Does our emergency shelter assess and address the safety risks for people fleeing domestic violence?
  • Does our shelter have accommodations that you would use personally?

Case Management Systems

Helping HandUps will operate a centralized web-based portal called Support-Net that streams real-time resource location and availability transmitted via secured connections to local service providers and agencies. This integrated care and delivery system has built-in case development and tracking mechanisms in order to measure and report results. Here are just a few of its features:

  1. Shelter bed availability, inventory, reservations, and assignment tracking.
  2. Foodbank and meal availability and delivery coordination and tracking
  3. Dispatch system for pet care with spay and neutering services
  4. Shuttle transportation coordination and tracking
  5. Criminal justice support,
  6. Child welfare support,
  7. Social services support,
  8. Medical or mental health referrals,
  9. Case analysis and reporting feeds to all supporting agencies

Helping HandUps intends to digitize its existing induction survey in order to drive needs-based requests to support agencies and care providers. Once the form is submitted, requests will be transmitted to create a workflow mechanism with case results and performance tracking. Each cooperating caseworker from supporting agencies would respond to Helping HandUps service requests within 24 hours. The nature of these responses will be determined based upon the nature of the supporting agency.

Helping HandUps helped us reunite with our family in Grand Rapids, MI

Matthew & Kristen