May 6, 2016
By Stephanie West
New York, NY – Marking the one-year anniversary of HOME-STAT (Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Teams), the City’s comprehensive street homeless outreach program, the Department of Homeless Services have announced a series of enhancements to improve street homeless outreach efforts.
Between implementation in March 2016 and February of this year, this new initiative has helped 748 homeless New Yorkers off the streets by partnering with existing homeless response and prevention programs to identify, engage, and transition homeless New Yorkers to appropriate services and, ultimately, permanent housing.
The program, which officially launched last April, was established to address the city’s street homeless population and remains the most comprehensive street homeless outreach initiative in any major U.S. city. It has doubled the number of street homeless outreach staff members working to connect individuals to the resources they need to obtain housing, and has expanded outreach services into indoor spaces, such as libraries and hospitals.
“It can take anywhere from one to hundreds of contacts to encourage people living on the street to come inside and accept services,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Every person has their own story and path to the streets, which is why our HOME-STAT program is so vital for this population. These new elements will help us to further expand our work and goal of transitioning more people off the street and into permanent housing.”
HOME-STAT is based on the premise that homelessness is a citywide problem that requires a citywide solution – a one-size-fits-all approach is insufficient as individuals living on the street face unique challenges and present with some of the most complex needs. Bringing street homeless New Yorkers in from unsheltered environments can take time, as these New Yorkers often struggle with many issues that highly-trained staff, including licensed social workers, must address in order to gain their trust such that the underlying issues that may have caused or contributed to their street homelessness are addressed. Many have fallen through available safety nets, and experience trauma and challenges, including mental health and substance use challenges that may make outreach more complicated.
HOME-STAT focuses on connecting with each individual living on the street to begin building the relationships and trust that will help nonprofit service providers bring them indoors. All street homeless outreach teams have licensed clinicians who work with clients on the streets. In addition to receiving on-going case management, people are assessed for immediate risk/crisis during each encounter. The teams also have psychiatrists who perform psychiatric evaluations on the streets and thereby help us understand and better meet the individual needs of each street homeless New Yorker. These clinicians and psychiatrists help our outreach teams connect with the clients who are difficult to engage, in many cases due to significant mental health challenges. Accepting outreach efforts, including services that will help homeless New Yorkers transition indoors from the streets, is voluntary. Our teams continue to reach-out to these New Yorkers to offer services and help them come indoors.
“Over the past year, thanks to the persistent and compassionate 24/7/365 work of our street homeless outreach teams, we have helped transition 748 street homeless New Yorkers indoors,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “The enhancements we’re making, along with our expanded partnerships with sister agencies, will allow us to further improve our programs and strategies to reach more street homeless New Yorkers, better understand the needs of clients, and ultimately move them off the streets.”