Shelter Assistant (Madison, WI)


Under the oversight of the Shelter Manager, a Shelter Assistant is responsible for providing front-line services to guests of the Porchlight Men’s Drop-In Shelter (DIS). Shelter Assistants remain awake and available as a resource to guests throughout the night, including orienting new individuals to the shelter, mediating interpersonal conflict, providing information regarding other services and resources, and productively addressing problems if they arise. The Shelter Assistant may also perform the function of Intake Worker upon opening, depending on staffing needs and the skills of the individual.


1. Create a welcoming environment for new and returning guests, including greeting guests as they enter, orienting new guests to the shelter, and answering questions.

2. Work effectively as a member of the shelter team, including maintaining open lines of communication, consulting about guest needs or situations, cooperating to complete tasks, and engaging in shared decision-making, as appropriate.3. Treat guests with respect and professionalism by practicing active listening, preserving guest confidentiality, avoiding power struggles, and maintaining patience in difficult situations.

4. Communicate shelter rules and policies; set limits with guests as appropriate, in keeping with a low-barrier shelter model.

5. Identify and intervene productively in emergency situations, including medical emergencies, mental health crises, and interpersonal conflicts.6. Work individually and as a member of the shelter team to engage in effective de-escalation.

7. Provide support and assistance to individuals experiencing crises due to mental illness and/or substance use.

8. Engage in proactive and creative problem solving to maintain a safe environment and keep people inside (able to continue accessing shelter).

9. Engage in ongoing training, coaching, and education related to de-escalation, substance use, mental health symptoms, and other professional skills (provided by Porchlight). Complete certifications as required.

10. Maintain thorough and timely documentation of incidents, guest situations, and services provided, in keeping with program guidelines.

11. Provide guests with referrals to and information about social services, housing, and other programs and resources.

12. Refer guests needing more extensive support to other program staff or to community services. Coordinate with shelter case managers on individual guest housing plans as needed.

13. Attend and participate productively in weekly team meetings.

14. Maintain appropriate professional boundaries with guests, including refraining from engaging in social relationships or exchanging money/goods with guests. Report preexisting relationships that may cause a conflict of interest to the Shelter Manager. 15. Open and close shelter according to DIS procedures; secure facility upon closing.

16. Issue appropriate, respectful, and timely lights out and wake-up announcements.

17. Issue blankets, sheets, and towels; distribute other supplies according to DIS procedures.

18. Assist with all aspects of food service during shift, as needed.

19. Perform nightly touch point and spot cleaning per specified COVID-19 guidelines.

20. Sweep, mop, wipe surfaces, take out trash, and perform other cleaning tasks as required to maintain a safe and sanitary environment throughout the shift. Use personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow appropriate protocols when cleaning bodily fluids.

21. Assist with laundry and other facility and operation upkeep tasks as needed.

22. Monitor all areas, including sleeping areas and restrooms, periodically throughout the night.

23. Complete shelter intake, as needed, including professionally and accurately documenting guest information and orienting new guests to shelter policies and procedures.

24. Perform other duties as assigned.Teamwork & Collaboration1. Work in collaboration with program and all other agency staff to facilitate a team environment.

2. Demonstrate and model effective communication skills in building relationships with all guests and employees. 3. Create good working relationships with other service providers.

4. Participate in the development and implementation of Porchlight’s strategic plan.Porchlight Values & Culture1. Treat all guests, employees, and visitors with caring, kindness, respect, and dignity. 2. Strive to reduce barriers to housing, shelter, and services.

3. Help to create an environment that values diversity and promotes racial equity.

4. Adhere to all Porchlight policies, procedures, code of conduct, and attendance rules. 5. Maintain strict confidentiality of all information.6. Adhere to Porchlight policies in the use of computer technology and tele-communication devices. 7. Conduct oneself in accordance with appropriate and expected professional boundaries and policies.QUALIFICATIONS1. Genuine desire to work with people experiencing homelessness, including those with mental illness and/or chemical dependency (experience working with these populations preferred).

2. Ability to communicate and work effectively with staff and guests from various backgrounds.

3. Belief that shelter is a human right and that allowing individuals to access emergency shelter when they need it should be a top priority.4. Ability and willingness to work effectively and professionally with guests displaying a wide range of challenging, unpleasant, and/or unusual behavior.

5. Ability to stay awake and alert throughout an overnight shift.

6. Willingness to work on site in an environment with numerous other individuals and to wear personal protective equipment (provided).7. Basic word processing skills and computer literacy skills.

8. Ability to compose thorough and accurate incident reports and other documentation.


The following physical demands are representative of those required by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be available to enable individuals with disabilities to perform these essential functions. The below list is not exclusive or exhaustive and more demands may be required as may reasonably be expected within the scope of the role.

  • Indoor environment: open office, shelter dormitories, facilities, etc.
  • Outdoor environment: parking lot, grounds, on-site trailer, etc.
  • Exposure to weather, extreme heat/cold, loud noises, fumes, airborne particles, toxic/caustic chemicals, risk of electricalshock and vibration
  • Sitting
  • Standing, kneeling, walking
  • Bending, stooping
  • Reaching, pushing, pulling
  • Climbing stairs
  • Lifting, carrying up to 15 pounds
  • Repetitive, fine hand, finger, and foot movements
  • Typing/data entry
  • Operating various equipment
  • Talking, hearing, interacting with coworkers, vendors, participants
  • Using office machines – phone, fax, computers, postage meter, etc
  • Close vision
  • Distance vision, field of vision, color/depth perception


    • Seeing, hearing, speaking
    • Reading, writing
    • Basic English comprehension, written and oral communication
    • Ability to lift 25+ pounds
    • Availability to work second and third shifts, weekends, holiday.

This is a full-time position that pays $15.00/hour and includes benefits.

The hours for this position are 4:00/4:30 pm to 12:00/12:30 am, including weekends.


Porchlight strives to address homelessness in Dane County by providing shelter, housing, supportive services, and a sense of community in ways that empower residents and program participants to positively shape their lives.

This mission to serve those struggling with homelessness can only be accomplished through the generous support of community members and the endless dedication of our staff and volunteers.


Please email your completed Porchlight Employment Application with your cover letter and resume with the subject SHELTER ASSISTANT to

Or mail to:

Human Resources,

Porchlight, Inc.

306 N. Brooks St.

Madison, WI 53715

Employment Application can be found at

Application deadline: 04/05/2021

It is our policy not to discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, religion, marital status, age, color, sex, disability/handicap, national origin or ancestry, income level or source of income, arrest record or conviction record, less than honorable discharge, gender identity, physical appearance, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or student status.