Transitional housing provides people with a temporary place to live as they attempt to get back on their feet or make a major transition in their lives. It can be used for a variety of different populations such as homeless people, recently released prisoners, drug abusers or even troubled teens. Anyone has the opportunity to provide housing assistance to populations in need by learning how to start transitional housing.

Determine the population you serve. Review what needs exist in your community for transitional housing, and use your needs assessment to help you in deciding what population to serve with your program. Network and discuss your intentions with community and business leaders to ensure you have community support to move forward with your plan to start transitional housing.

Establish a board of directors. Find volunteers willing to donate their time to assist you in starting transitional housing and serving a particular need in your community. Ask people from different segments of the city as well as different businesses and industries. The more diverse group you have as a board of directors, the more support and funding you can obtain since each person can pull resources from their own network and niche in the community.

Register as a nonprofit organization. Visit the website of the Internal Revenue Service to review the regulations and requirements for becoming a nonprofit organization. Download and complete any forms to register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as well as the forms from the state government to be tax exempt.

Obtain funding. Network with experienced grant writers and directors of other nonprofits focused on providing transitional housing to learn of grant opportunities that exist to start a temporary housing program. For example, the U.S. Department of Justice provides grant funding to transitional housing programs for domestic or sexual abuse victims while the Michigan Housing Development Authority gives grant funding to transitional housing programs in the state. Conduct fundraisers and seek out donations from businesses, foundations and private individuals. Network with city leaders as well as employees of the United Way, since both groups may be able to allocate a portion of their funding for your program.

Find a location. Learn if an individual or business has a vacant house they are willing to donate to your organization to establish as a transitional home. If not, seek out a residential property you can purchase and remodel to fit the needs of your specific program and the number of participants you have. Prior to purchasing a home, conduct a neighborhood survey of the area of the city where you want your transitional housing program to be located. Review the surveys to learn whether support exists in that specific area for the transitional home, and consider alternative locations if residents are adamantly opposed.

Set the housing rules. Meet with the board of directors and set the criteria for admission to the transitional housing program. Create a set of rules residents in the house must obey to remain living there, and have procedures in place for addressing problems and removing residents who fail to follow the rules.

Develop support services. Determine what support services the population you serve needs to be successful in transitioning from your program to a permanent home. Many need assistance in finding employment to be able to afford a place to live while others need personal counseling to be self sufficient. Find individuals, other nonprofits or government agencies in the community willing to help your program participants by providing these services.

Hire staff or get volunteers. Provide around the clock supervision for the transitional housing program by hiring staff members or seeking out volunteers from the community. Train each staff member and volunteer on how to interact with participants as well as what to do in emergency situations. Try to keep at least two staff members or volunteers working at the same time since this provides more security and stability when working with a transitional population which may be violate.