Street Outreach Program
The Street Outreach Team frequents areas where homeless youth stay, building relationships and breaking down trust barriers. The team is equipped with vital supplies, from clean socks to HIV testing kits, in order to respond to the immediate needs of the youth they encounter.
The Street Outreach Program takes a Harm Reduction approach to service delivery. Harm reduction meets marginalized communities, like runaway and homeless youth, where they’re at but doesn’t leave them there. Harm reduction practices are designed to acknowledge and reduce the risks young people face every day by developing youth-centered strategies to enhance safety in ways that work for them.
Many youth experiencing homelessness have made the conscious choice to leave their previous environment for their own safety. Rather than judging that decision, the outreach team honors their journey and works to ensure safety in whatever decisions the youth makes. By taking this trauma-informed approach to relationship building, the team is building rapport that can develop into a healthy, trusting relationship. From there, the outreach team provides case management and resource referrals to empower youth to exit the streets and move towards independence.
The burden for youth to engage in the program is minimal. Youth can simply have a conversation with team members and receive basic supplies or request additional services – including shelter or housing services. The outreach team regularly visits parks, libraries, and other nonprofit organizations where support services are available. Knowing that transportation is often a hurdle for youth living on the streets, the outreach team provides assistance via The PLACE’s vehicle or vouchers for public transit so they can get to mental health appointments, access showers at partner facilities, wash laundry, or make it to any other appointments that aid in supporting their path off the streets.
Last year, the Street Outreach Team made contact with 482 unhoused or at-risk youth, giving them alternatives to living on the streets.