What happens when someone is forced to leave the place where they are living? They go to a shelter, live “doubled up” with friends or family, or end up living in places not meant for human habitation, such as a car, tent, abandoned building, or outside. HOPES Center’s Street Outreach teams go out at night to locate and serve people who are unsheltered.
Street Outreach teams meet people where they are and offer to take them to shelter. If they are unable or unwilling to go to shelter, the team provides basic need items such as food, water, blankets, socks and personal hygiene products. Coffee and conversation are also common components of street outreach, as the teams get to know who is on the street, earn their trust, and provide information about services that are available in Racine to help people transition out of homelessness.
HOPES Center’s outreach work also takes place at meal sites and other locations in Racine where people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness can be found. Outreach teams have a working relationship with Racine shelters and with clerks and managers of 24 hour businesses. HOPES is both proactive in going out to find and serve people on the streets and is also re-active by responding to calls to the OUTREACH HOTLINE (262) 498- 7686 at night.
Street Outreach Teams are composed of a staff member and one or two volunteers who go out on three hour shifts two to three nights per week. Volunteers and staff are trained in street outreach principles and techniques, and always operate as a team. Volunteers usually serve on one three hour shift per week.
Outreach supplies such as food, coffee, blankets and socks have been generously provided by community members. The main constraint to more hours on the street at night is funding for staff hours and fuel (we do a lot of driving). In 2017 we would like to expand the number of nights and hours out on the street, and also expand coverage to the western part of Racine County.