Street outreach involves moving outside the walls of an agency to engage with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness who may be disconnected and alienated not only from mainstream services and supports, but from the services targeting homeless persons as well. This is incredibly important work designed to help establish supportive relationships, give people advice and support, and hopefully enhance the possibility that they will access necessary services and supports that will help them move off the streets.
While there are different types of homelessness, street-based outreach teams serve those who the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers “literally homeless.” This is defined as, “an individual that has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation.”
Outreach workers have many different skills including homeless services navigation, mental health first aid, motivational interviewing, and trauma informed care, among others. Some teams even have physical health, mental health and substance use professionals. Outreach teams start by building a trusting relationship with and determining the needs of people living on the streets. Their efforts can be as simple as helping someone experiencing homelessness get an ID card or as complex as helping to meet medical and mental health needs. But the ultimate goal of outreach services? To help people who are homeless move from the streets into a permanent home.
Some people may require significant time to build trust. Others may be more readily open to help. Additionally, many of the households we engage with may require a wide range of services to secure and maintain housing. The process of connecting them to services that promote housing stability can be a lengthy one.
Regardless, everything we do is in partnership with those we serve, and is done in a way that fosters dignity and self-determination. Until there’s more shelter and affordable permanent housing, the process to get people indoors is slower than we would like. But through the investments of capital development funding from federal, state and local sources, there will be an increase in shelter beds and permanent housing over time. The commitment of our outreach teams, combined with expanded housing opportunities, will make a huge difference.
The BBCoC Homeless Outreach Portal is designed to assist people experiencing homelessness in Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor, and Wakulla Counties with outreach services. We’ll use this information to dispatch a homeless services outreach team to the area.
For medical or mental health emergencies, please call 911.
For crime or illegal activity, please contact your local law enforcement agency.
WHEN SHOULD I FILL OUT AN OUTREACH REQUEST?
Did you see someone experiencing homelessness who needs help? Notice a homeless neighbor who seems to be struggling with their physical and/or mental health? Then you can help them by filling out an outreach request and alert us as to any specific concerns you may have regarding the person’s well-being. As outreach capacity is limited, requests for those with more serious medical and/or mental health needs may be prioritized.
WHEN SHOULD I NOT FILL OUT AN OUTREACH REQUEST?
If you come across a family with minor children experiencing homelessness, have them BBHC – HOPE Family Community Shelter by calling (850) 576-5566. If you are concerned about illegal activity, contact your local law enforcement agency. For medical and mental health emergencies, call 911. Unfortunately, outreach teams are not able to serve individuals who are couch surfing, temporarily living with friends or family, at risk of homelessness, or already staying in a homeless shelter. As outreach teams focus on street-based services, they cannot perform in-reach to facilities.
CAN I GET AN UPDATE ON WHAT HAPPENED?
If you provide your email address, we will let you know we received your request. We are required by law to protect the privacy of those we serve… therefore we are unable to share updates. However, if you agree to be contacted, we may reach out to you to ask additional questions that will help us locate and connect with the person referred.