MEETING PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE
According to semi-annual point-in-time counts, there are 200 – 300 people homeless in Racine County on any given day. The number can reach over 1,000 during a year. The vast majority of people experiencing homelessness in Racine go to shelter. HOPES Center’s street outreach teams go out on the streets at night to serve those who, for whatever reason, do not enter shelter.
People who are unsheltered are often not looking for service or assistance. The first job of a street outreach team is to locate people. HOPES Center’s teams are composed of 2 – 3 people who are trained in street outreach principles and techniques. The teams are assigned specific zones in which the look for people spending the night in places not meant for human habitation.
When a team locates someone who is outside for the night, they start by offering shelter. If the person declines shelter, they offer basic assistance such a food, water, blankets, socks, hygiene products, and information about services available in Racine. Respecting the worth and dignity of each person, the team continues to go back and meet with the person as long as they are found on the streets. Slowly building a relationship of trust, the ultimate goal is to help the person access services and housing that will end his or her homelessness. Sometimes this happens quickly. Sometimes it takes a very long time.
HOPES is part of the Homelessness and Housing Alliance of Racine County, which has a coordinated entry system to link people who are homeless to housing opportunities. Working with our partners at HALO, Safe Haven of Racine, Women’s Resource Center, Center for Veterans Issues, Lutheran Social Services and Racine Vocational Ministry, we have helped people end their homelessness by moving from the streets to permanent housing and starting on the road to housing stability.