Outreach is the critical first step in putting a homeless person on the path to housing. Experienced outreach teams build relationships with people experiencing homelessness who are not yet connected to the homeless service delivery system and connect them to housing, health, mental health, and other supportive services – a process that can vary in length and is customized to meet each person’s unique needs.
The Countywide Outreach System
The Countywide Outreach System (Strategy E6) is improving outreach efforts to connect individuals and families experiencing homelessness on the streets and in encampments with supportive services and housing – a significant step to help them move into interim and permanent housing.
The growth of Measure H-funded Outreach Teams has increased the number of individuals they are able to assist and that upward trajectory is expected to continue. The graph below shows the impact of this expansion, with outreach teams contacting nearly 18,000 individuals in the first year of Measure H implementation and more than 6,000 contacted in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018-2019.
The number of people placed into housing is smaller than the number of those contacted for a few reasons: tight housing markets impacts the timeframe from assessment to housing placement; and many homeless individuals take time and repeated contacts by outreach teams before they accept help or engage in services.
Home after 6 years
Dan is a 58-year-old male who has been homeless for over six years. He was initially focused on not losing his storage space but unfortunately could not make payments and also lost his cherished possessions. He was encamped on the grounds of a church in Highland Park as part of an arrangement made between a local non-profit and the pastor of the church.
The outreach team built rapport over time and he shared his aspirations to become a teacher. They linked him with the Los Angeles Christian Health Center for primary physical healthcare and mental health services and to Showers of Hope so that he could regularly access shower and hygiene services.
Dan didn’t think he could find work because of a possible diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder. After working with the team, Dan’s health and mental health has improved and he is on a path towards long-term recovery. He was matched to the Rosslyn Apartments for permanent housing and moved into his unit in June 2018. To give back to the community that supports him, Dan started volunteering at Showers of Hope the same week he secured housing.
Los Angeles County Mobile Shower Pilot
Countywide outreach teams, along with law enforcement officers and service providers from across the region, use the recent mobile shower pilot program at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area as an opportunity to engage people experiencing homelessness, helping to connect them with services and housing resources.