How Downtown Streets Team Works

Why we’re different

We believe that treating people with dignity and empowering them to be a part of the solution to their struggles is a major factor in their ultimate success. Our approach is unique in that we not only challenge Team Members to take an active role in their own recovery but we also empower them to create long-term solutions for their peers. By having the opportunity to tell their stories at schools, churches, social organizations, and business associations, our Team Members are changing perceptions about homelessness in their communities.

Furthermore, our program has the inherent public benefit of a cleaner community as our Team Members engage in beautifications projects such as street cleaning and creek restoration through our Award-Winning Work-First Model. As one of our Team Members has said, what we’re doing is a “win-win-win” scenario: the Team Member wins, the environment wins and the community wins – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Who are our Team Members?

All of our Team Members are volunteers who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless. The majority of our new Team Members hear about our services through peer-to-peer outreach from our existing Team Members or graduates. We also provide professional outreach with our staff in all of our communities.

The role of our Team Members

We provide homeless and low-income men and women with the resources they need to rebuild their lives. First, they volunteer on one of our teams and begin working collaboratively on beautification projects. Team Members are held accountable and trusted to complete tasks, show up on time, and work well with others. Those who show dedication and leadership skills have the ability to rise up to become Team Leads, then Managers, and supervise others with little or no supervision from staff.

In return, Team Members receive a non-cash stipend to help cover their basic needs, while taking advantage of our case management and employment services to find housing and a job. Our ultimate goal is to transition Team Members into employment because having a job restores hope and opens the door to other opportunities. Our model is structured to be a one-year transitional program into permanent housing and employment.

Community partnerships

To fight homelessness we combine compassionate and innovative leadership with collaboration between the private sector, government agencies, social service agencies, and most importantly, our community. Homelessness is a complex issue that is too big for any single agency to address, so we value our strong partner network and are always looking for new partnerships to make sure all of our stakeholders are represented.

We know that education is the key to changing perceptions and dispelling stereotypes of the homeless in our community, so a key part of our model involves speaking engagements at schools, church groups, social clubs, and business associations.

Did you know?

In 2005 we were founded in Palo Alto as part of an initiative to decrease panhandling and debris on the streets.