Stories And News




Eileen Richardson, Founder and CEO of Downtown Streets Team, Honored with Advocate for the Homeless Award by the California Travel Association

Eileen Richardson, the founder and CEO of Downtown Streets Team (DST), a homeless advocacy organization that operates in Northern and Central California, was honored by the California Travel Association with the CalTravel’s Advocate for the Homeless Award for 2021. Read more »



Chris Richardson Honored by Midpeninsula Media Center as a 2021 Local Hero

Congratulations to our Chief Program Officer, Chris Richardson on being recognized as a Local Hero! Midpeninsula Media Center recognizes six unsung local heroes every year who are providing amazing service to our community. Read more »



Mary's Story

“My son died. I didn’t want to face the reality of it. And I became an alcoholic. I’ll admit it. That’s why I’m homeless.” Mary says this frankly A native of Modesto, Mary’s life has not been an easy one, but it is far from over. After losing her son, she slipped into alcoholism. “I didn’t work anymore. I just wanted to drink. I lost my housing because I didn’t want to face the reality of my son’s death. But I spent three months in jail – and I had to face reality. I decided to be sober.” For six years, Mary experienced homelessness and it wasn’t until the last two that she found support at Downtown Streets Team.

She sits back and reflects on everything. “Homelessness and homeless people aren’t diseases. We are human. When people choose to see the bad, that’s all they ever see,” wiping away a tear, she talks about where she is now. “I became somebody I like. I like who I am now. I like that I can afford to feed my dog.”

Read Mary’s full journey here »



Tommy's Story

Hi everyone, my name is Tommy and I wanted to share with you what DST means to me and so many other people. They help you with getting a Driver’s License, housing, General Assistance, EBT cards, jobs, and more. So thank you, Jordan, Kate, Melissa, Siena, and a very special thanks to Jen. Let’s not forget Brooke and the lady that donated my shoes. The trash we pick up is small in comparison to what these people do for us. Read more stories »



VOLUME XXXIII - "I'm Too Blessed To Be Stressed"

My name is James I and I’m originally from Seattle and I’ve lived in the City for most of or all of 42 years. I’m 55. There wasn’t much of a relationship with my parents. Mom and dad got divorced when I was three. When I was four, they put my sister in a group home. And when I was seven my dad put me in a group home. I stayed there till I was 11. I got out of the group home and went back home and my dad wasn’t great so out the door I went. Started hanging out with the kids downtown, down the block in Seattle still. Down at the doughnut shop which had pinball machines. Videogames were just coming out…Read more »



VOLUME XXXII - "Coming Back to Community"

My Name is Alberto G. and I was born in Mexico. ’71. I came to California in ’74. I moved to Santa Cruz, CA. My mother’s immigration was not traditional. She had a pretty good job, stable, working for retired Canadians. A lot of Canadians over there in Mexico that retire. She left and brought two of my siblings over here I grew up in Santa Cruz county until I left in 2000. I had a good relationship with my mom and siblings…Read more »



VOLUME XXXI - "I'm Part of the Solution"

My name is Ron Perez. I’m a father of two beautiful sons. I grew up in Oakland, California and then in Castro Valley where I lived with both of my parents. When I lived in Oakland, we had a house. Things were really good. But my mom had mental illness going on. It was unchecked mental illness. No one at the time - not even my father - really understood what was going on…Read more »



VOLUME XXX - "Loving the Heart of San Franicsco"

My name is Diana B and I’m from Paducah Kentucky. I was raised in McCracken County on my grandfather’s farm. I had a great childhood. I go back home every now and then at Christmas and play Santa Clause. But I love California, it’s my second homeRead more »



"It Feels Good To Be Recognized As Somebody"

My name is Resheemah White, but I'm known as Ro-Ro. Growing up it was hard. I grew up in a single parent home. My mother was an alcoholic. She was trying so hard to take care of me and she had me at 17. So I tried to find love in the streets. And as time went on I ended up being in the streets because I didn't think anybody cared about me. And that was a path to self-destruction…Read more »



"I'm Going Through It & I Can't Believe That You're Here"

A few months ago I was invited to present to the most high profile convention center users in SF.I introduced DST with the Just Say Hi video, a 2016 campaign video featuring our SF Team in a series of beautiful portrait-style shots, tied together by the narrative of one of our founding Team Members in SF, Keeaira Wells. Stills of these TM portraits still hang in our office. Viewings of the video break even the toughest suits and was no different this day. Keeaira had been employedon and off throughout the years and experienced just as much inconsistency with shelter, checking in with DST every few months when she was going through turbulent times. I wouldn’tsee Keeaira for months at a time and often felt conflicted about her portrayal video, depending on her current state of stability and connection to DST… Read more »



VOLUME XXIX - “I Am An Overcomer”

My name is Roscoe L.B, AKA Hollywood. And this is the way I got my name Hollywood—I’m from East St. Louis Illinois. My sister lived in Beverly Hills, in LA. I was 17 years old, and I went home and I told my momma I want to go to California with my sister here. So, my sister went to her boss lady, Mrs. Girshwin, and she borrowed $60 and I was on that same week, on my way to California. So, after I get to California, I used go home about every three years and when I went back home they said “Hollywood is in town.” So that’s how I got my name, Hollywood. Plus, I have talent… Read more »



VOLUME XXVIII - “Persistence is key”

My name is Leona Leslie. I was born in Seville and I was raised in Carmichael,California.Pretty much right after I lost my job at Walmart and couldn't find another job,I was already feeling bad enough as it is. And my mom's like, “if you don't find another job within this many months, you're going get kicked out.” That just led me to think “what is my life?” And I really wanted to end it. So, I either had the choice of keep my life and change it or die. And I decided to change physically [to a trans woman]… Read more »



"It's All For My Daughter"

I had my daughter when I was older. I had to escape an abusive marriage, and we ended up living out of my car until it was totaled in a bad wreck. It left us with only each other to depend on to stay safe and survive. Both of my parents and sister has passed away, and we were left with no one to turn to. As a mom, your world revolves around your children. Being without a home means that you have so many more obstacles to keep you and your child safe. It took a toll on my mental and physical health, but I did not give up, because I always fight hard to be the best mom that I can… Read more »



Volume XXVII - "The Art of Empowerment"

My name is Lewis B. I’m originally from a small town called Brownsville, Illinois. I’m an Air-Force Brat. I had three brothers. I didn’t move around a lot; I was born on the Air Force base and that’s basically where I got to grow up. I don’t know what normal is. I never felt all that close or connected with my family. I’ve always been eh about that, I’ve never been close to my family or a lot of people to tell you the truth. I was just born with something different. It was too hot during the summer, too cold during the winter in Illinois. And I had to decide where’d I go to be comfortable at and the answer I decided was San Francisco! So, I came out here in 1985 because it’s never too hot out here and never too cold out here… Read more »



Meet Georgie - DST Santa Cruz Graduate

I joined January 4, 2018. I had just left a job at New Leaf and I needed something to do. It was a really rainy winter and I didn’t have any money. I was sitting outside one morning and saw a DST Team Member I knew from church and I went up to him and asked him what he was doing. He told me about DST and where to go for the Weekly Success Meeting. I went to the meeting and I was blown away and I got on the waitlist that day… Read more »



Happy Birthday Natthan!

We at Downtown Streets Team wish Natthan Mesfin a warm happy birthday! If you don’t know about him, let us introduce you. Natthan had a passion for philanthropy since he was 9 years old! He’s been a bright light for DST since he was 11 when he joined the DST Board and currently serves on the East Bay Advisory Board, where he discusses organizational business along with other board members… Read more »



VOLUME XXVI - "A Community of Hopeful Overcomers"

In his crusade for acceptance and inclusion, Supervisor Harvey Milk declared that “hope will never be silent.” This message not only illuminates a block of The Castro, but all of San Francisco. It is a city famed for its acceptance, its inclusiveness and its progressivism; these words have echoed in marginalized communities decades after Supervisor Milk first spoke them. Hope is never silent. It isn’t silent when shouted down in community halls decrying services to the marginalized. It isn’t silent when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds in ending decades of systemic homelessness. And hope is loud at Downtown Streets Team… Read more »



VOLUME XXV - "Helping Myself & Helping Others"

My name is Darlene N. and I’ve worked [volunteered] for Downtown Streets Team for about three/four months now and I like it. I did a complete turnaround on my life. I did drugs, I was in an abusive relationship. And now my life is happy, I’m engaged. I got a wonderful family and DST is my other family. I love working here. Read more »



VOLUME XXIV - "Finding Family"

My name is Roman C. I was born here in San Francisco in the Mission District and that’s where all my childhood was, based in the Mission. I have three brothers and two sisters. I’m the youngest. I come from a broken home. My brothers and sisters, they all come from the same broken home, too. That hood, the Mission District, there was a lot of gangs way back when. And it was the beginning of everything I went through in life up to today. Read more »



DST's CEO Receives The James Irvine Leadership Award

Each year, the James Irvine Foundation’s Leadership Awards recognizes innovative, effective leaders whose breakthrough solutions to critical state challenges improve lives, create opportunity, and contribute to a better California. We at Downtown Streets Team are proud to announce our CEO and Founder, Eileen Richardson, is one of five 2019 Leadership Awards recipients. She was nominated by San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who works closely with Richardson and Downtown Streets Team to find concrete solutions to ending homelessness in the heart of Silicon Valley… Read more »



VOLUME XXIII - “I See With My Spirit”

I was born and named Carl Frederick Minor Jr., which I resented because I was named after my father. I love him but I don’t like him. I was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York. I started doing art as a child and pursued art as a profession. I went blind at the age of 29 from detached retinas, the same thing caused my mom and my sister to go blind… Read more »



VOLUME XXII - “I Do Something Positive Everyday”

Hi my name is Greg and this is my story. I was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and left when I was about 10 years old. My dad used to work for the airlines so he transferred the family to California and I’ve been here for almost 40 years. I still have a lot of family on both my mother and father’s side in Cincinnati. I don’t get a chance to go back as often as I would like to see them, but I will eventually because they are getting a little older now so I want to spend time with them… Read more »



VOLUME XXI - “It Has Been Inspiring”

My name is Perry and I’ve been with Downtown Streets Team for 2 months. I was born in Athens, Greece and my parents immigrated to the United States when I was 7, and I have spent the majority of my life living in San Carlos. I was an only child and close with my family. At the age of 18, I took up body building while also helping my family run the restaurants they owned for about 13 years. After that, I opened up a classic car dealership. I’ve done a lot of things in many different industries on top of what I have already mentioned… Read more »



VOLUME XX - “I Want to Change Lives”

My name is Darryl. I was born and raised in West Oakland. West Oakland was a bad neighborhood, but we didn’t know it because our parents sheltered. I grew up like any other kid, riding skateboards and bikes, I was a boy scout and I played a lot of sports. I also came up very political, the Black Panthers were very popular when I was growing up and the whole community I grew up in was aware of what was going on around us. From 0-14 years old, my life was great, but then my mom died. When my mom died, I didn’t understand why she died and I started questioning God because I didn’t understand why he took her away from me… Read more »



VOLUME XIX - “I Never Give Up Hope On Anybody”

Hi my name is Donna and I came to Downtown Streets Team in July. I had always had a really good job, but I never prepared for my retirement, mainly because I never thought I would retire. I ended up tearing both of my rotator cuffs and had to stop working. I was still on payroll while I was recovering but then the company I worked for busted the union and closed down eight of their sites so I found myself without a job. I found a new job that I absolutely loved, it was perfect for me and I thought I was going to work there till I was 85, but two years later, the owner decided to close down shop. I found myself being a senior citizen with no opportunities and it scared me… Read more »



VOLUME XVIII - “Everyone Has the Wisdom and Courage to Have a Better Life”

Hi my name is Victor and this is my story. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family; my father was an alcoholic and a pedophile. When I was young I was molested and brutally abused and that turned me into a very angry young man. For relief, instead of letting somebody know what was going on, I turned to drug use – using meth, acid, mushrooms, anything that made me feel better. It worked for many years but the problem was that I have tendencies towards addiction; my life goes into a downhill spiral very quickly when I use… Read more »



VOLUME XVII - “I've Been Everywhere”

Hi I’m Gary, and I was born and raised in Japan. I came to the States when I was 11 and we lived in Long Beach, CA. I had eight sisters, no brothers, no uncles, and no nephews. My sisters used to tie me up and tickle me until I peed myself, that was lovely for them, not as much for me, but I love my sisters. I was the dad of the household, it was hard running the house at 12, but it was alright because my mom was good at it. She had no faults at all… Read more »



VOLUME XVI - “What Got Me Through Life”

Hi, this is Michael and this is my story. I was born in Huntington, West Virginia and I went to a desegregated school. We were only supposed to go to black schools, but my sister and I had a dialect that could compare to whites so my parents felt it would be dangerous for me to go to a black school… Read more »



VOLUME XV - “Just Keep Pushing”

My name is Raymond and I was born in San Francisco. I lived with my mother, but I was a latchkey kid, she was never around much so I was at home alone a lot. I first went to Riordan High School, but I flunked out, then went to Abraham Lincoln High School and graduated from there. I met a girl at Lincoln and we got married right after high school… Read more »



VOLUME XIV - “I Just Have To Keep It Up”

My name is Wayne and I’m from Oakland, CA. My mother was heavily on drugs and Oakland at the time, was really rough, so my father decided to take me to Kansas to give me a new experience. Boy, the country life was different. Kansas is slow, it’s not like out here, there isn’t too much mischief out there. The only kind of mischief you can get into is playing in a creek where you aren’t supposed to be because you can get swept away into the river… Read more »



Volume XIII – “I Know I’m on The Right Path”

My name is Raymond. My mom and I never had a close relationship. She never really supported me; I really had to be on my own, be independent, and work hard. I worked for many companies like Lucky’s, Safeway, and Costco. She was running a store and I was managing it and helping her out a little bit. I took a risk, saved my money, and bought… Read more »



Volume XII – “I’m Just Getting Started”

My name is Gloria and I’m from the Bay Area. Life for me started when I got pregnant. I had sex one time and got pregnant. I was 15 years old and then I had her and really I guess when she got to 2 years old is when I first experienced being homeless. That’s when my mom kicked me out of the house. I didn’t know what I was going to do or where I was going to go, but… Read more »



Volume XI – “Yes I’m Homeless, But I’m Going To Be A Success Story”

My name is Vernell; I came to DST roughly 8 months ago. I was looking for a way to make ends meet, to give me a purpose, to keep me out of the shelter system. I moved here from Savannah, Georgia via Arkansas. I was living in… Read more »



East Bay Gives

East Bay Gives is a 24-hour online giving blitz supporting Bay Area nonprofits. We hope you’ll show support for our Hayward Team by donating. On Thursday, May 4, 2017, East Bay Gives aims to mobilize Bay Area residents to give $5 million to support hundreds of nonprofits, and Downtown Streets Team is one of them. Just… Read more »



Vote to Help us Launch a Team in Mountain View

Downtown Streets Team has been recognized as a FINALIST for Inspire Mountain View, a collective of tech companies and committed community partners who are offering significant dollars to preserve the diversity of the community and strengthen the quality of life in Mountain View. Beginning today thru April 21st, we are asking for your VOTE to expand our model of ending… Read more »



Providing Jobs, Housing and Hope

Written By Mayor Edwin M. Lee If someone ventured down to the Dolby Laboratories headquarters on Wednesday, they would have immediately noticed a large group of people decked out in brightly colored yellow t-shirts. These individuals were impossible to miss, and they had every right to be recognized. They were all members of the Downtown Streets Team,… Read more »



City of Sunnyvale Welcomes the Street Café That’s Ending Homelessness

It’s coffee with a karma catch: order your cappuccino at Downtown Streets Team’s (DST) KARTMA Street Café and know you’re paying it forward, because every cup purchased goes towards ending homelessness. The 100 percent electric coffee cart employs individuals transitioning out of homelessness and equips them with practical work experience and a competitive wage…. Read more »



SCC Realtors Foundation Donates $25,000

Earlier this week, the Santa Clara County Realtors Foundation (SCCRF) surprised all of us at Downtown Streets Team (DST) when they presented a $25,000 check at an evening event hosted by Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. “Myself and Annette Hancock, an extraordinary volunteer and long-time board member, were overwhelmed by the foundation’s generosity, and Annette was… Read more »



San Jose Mayor Liccardo Helps Remove 162 Bags of Trash

Do you notice the trash and debris alongside San Jose’s freeway on and off-ramps (also known as gateways)? It’s a noticeable issue, and our unhoused Team Members and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo are working hard to clean it all up, one gateway at a time. There are 18 gateways leading into downtown San Jose,… Read more »



Volume X – Hayley Benham-Archdeacon, DST Coordinator

By Hayley Benham-Archdeacon, DST San Francisco Coordinator: Something our Project Director says is if we could just get everyone in the room with our Team Members, we would end homelessness. I fully believe that. They are the most human humans. I don’t know how else to say it. While of course the breadth of personalities… Read more »



LinkedIn Interns Say ‘Hi’ and Raise 10,000 to End Homelessness

In late March 2016, Downtown Streets Team launched its work experience model for unhoused community members in San Francisco, a city that we know and love for its diverse, creative, and charmingly gritty culture. Three months after our launch, we were thrilled to have the attention of the largest employment oriented social networking company in… Read more »



VOL IX – Gregory Mills, San Francisco Graduate

Hi, I’m Gregory Mills… Can we do it like Paul Harvey? I just think it sounds more dramatic… February 23 1977, I joined the Airforce with a six month old child. I was looking for something better career-wise, instead of being a janitor, my pride was too strong. I started as a mechanic, worked… Read more »



SanJoseInside – Op-Ed: Vote ‘Yes’ on A for Affordable Housing

This op-ed piece was originally published by; written by Eileen Richardson: Measure A would authorize Santa Clara County to spend $950 million on affordable housing for the homeless and other vulnerable residents. This November, Santa Clara County voters will have the opportunity to make history by voting “yes” on Measure A… Read more »



VOL VIII - Eileen Richardson, CEO

Looking back, I’m embarrassed at my naivety. I raised two kids as a single mom, all the while climbing my way up the corporate ladder. I became a successful Venture Capitalist, and then took the helm as CEO of Napster and another high-tech startup. After that, I thought solving homelessness would be a breeze. Give me six months, I thought, and I’ll spread the model across the country and call it a day!Read more »



VOL VII - Rich Mongarro, Union Square Team

By Rich Mongarro, Operations Director at Block by Block Union Square: We all have our stories, both good and bad. It can be hard not to judge each another. Those living on the street are judged and written off based on their physical appearance and apparent status in life before their beliefs, aspirations or character ever come into consideration… Read more »



A For Affordable Housing - A Historic Affordable Housing Bond

Everyone should have the opportunity to live in a safe, healthy, affordable home. Santa Clara County residents voted to pass a historic bond on the November 2016 ballot to help create more affordable housing in one of the wealthiest regions of the world. “Measure A is a monumental opportunity for our community to rise to the challenge and provide support to our community members who need our help… Read more »



VOL VI - Angelique Diaz, Case Manager

By Angelique Diaz, San Francisco Case Manager: I am continuously asked, “What is case management?” If ya ask me, it means being a housing counselor, personal assistant, liaison, scheduler, cooking instructor, house cleaner, mold inspector, mover, driver, legal advocate, and alarm clock. I grew up in Brownsville, a small city in South Texas, and although it was a poor border town, homelessness was rarely seen. Growing up, I didn’t even know homelessness existed. Now I speak as someone who has been in the nonprofit world working with the unhoused and low-income community for 10 years, which is my entire adult life… Read more »



VOL V - LGBTQ And Homeless By Lisa, Team Lead

I was born in Chicago. I don’t really know much about it, because I was very young when we moved to Colorado. I grew up mainly in Denver; then a small town called Slight. I’ve always been good with children. After I graduated high school I started taking childcare classes. I have something of a gift with kids. I’ve always gotten along with them, cared for them. They’re really special to me… Read more »



VOL IV - Jaclyn Epter, Employment Specialist

Most people are excited about their birthdays. At Downtown Streets Team (DST), we honor our Team Members’ birthdays, but some responses I’ve heard perfectly highlight how life-altering homelessness can be: “I haven’t celebrated my birthday for years,” one Team Member told me. “I’m just trying to get through the day.” Another Team Member, upon being offered a leftover slice of cake, declined. “I just don’t have anywhere to keep it.”… Read more »



VOL III - Annette Visor, San Francisco Team Member

By Annette Visor. Photo courtesy and first appearing in I went to live in Houston, Texas in June, 1977, and I stayed four years and came back to San Francisco. I went there to get my life established because my son was young and I wanted to make a future for him. I used to work at a convalescent home taking care of elderly people. I came back to San Francisco to see about my mom… Read more »



VOL II - Annette Visor, San Francisco Team Member

By Brandon Davis, Project Director of San Francisco: In a letter from Birmingham jail, Dr. Martin Luther King declared that "Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through tireless efforts…and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right…" Read more »



VOL I - Just Say Hi

In one of the most innovative cities in the world, San Franciscans are moving quickly towards solutions for many of the world’s problems, yet we do so on a backdrop of severe homelessness: the imagery of people living in dire conditions on the streets has become the standard background of life in the City. In our current state of affairs, it’s easy to stop seeing unhoused community members as people, and let them blend into “the homeless.” It takes a conscious effort to remind ourselves that homelessness is an experience, not an identity… Read more »



Rodney Will Never Give Up

“The moral of the story is never give up. Stick with it,” said Rodney. It’s a mantra that fits him perfectly. Born in Detroit, he moved around and ended up in the bay area as a result of his mother leaving his father… Read more »



Connie Lands Dream Job

“Everyone at DST is truly dedicated to doing what they do and it inspires me to do the same,” said Connie – one of our Team Members who has always wanted to work for the City of Palo Alto… Read more »



Leif, A Felon, Now Changed

Leif is thankful for his position with Downtown Streets Team. “I don’t know what I would do without this tool. Just having a job does a lot for self-esteem,” said Leif… Read more »



Don’s Story of Perseverance

Don was living like many of us: gainfully employed and renting an apartment with a roommate. When Don lost his job at Fry’s his roommate, who was ill with cancer, became concerned about the liability of carrying the rent on her own. Being a standup guy with a strong sense of honor, Don left on… Read more »



Mike’s Journey to Housing and Sobriety

As with many homeless people, Mike Osteen’s back story is complicated and riddled with uncontrollable circumstances and struggles. Mike is a true testament to what hard work and perseverance can accomplish when provided with a stable and supportive environment. With honesty and openness upon reflecting on the past 55 years of his… Read more »



Chuck on Learning to Trust

Nothing in the years that Chuck Jagoda spent as a student of ancient and modern Greek and an educator in New York City schools prepared him for the hardest challenge of his life: homelessness… Read more »



Holly is Unstoppable

Meet Holly. Holly is a recent graduate of our program who is now housed, employed and one year sober. She has reached incredible goals and she’s not stopping! “I was sitting there in jail thinking, ‘Give yourself one year and see what happens,” said Holly, a recent graduate of our program. “I can’t believe… Read more »



Kevin’s Heartfelt Message

We often receive messages from our graduates. Kevin is one of our most active Facebook Fans, and he shared this sweet photo and message with us today. All we have to say is congratulations on his sobriety and beautiful baby boy! “I wanted to thank eileen , chris, greg, Shannon and every single person… Read more »



“Will” Williams From a Life Sentence to Living

During his years in prison, Williams never had a single visitor; the ties between him and his 12 siblings had unraveled when they were put into foster care at age 9 because of brutal abuse… Read more »



I Am A Warrior

My name is Michael. I came to California from Hawaii in 1974. I went to school in Eastside San Jose. I had a normal childhood, my parents provided everything we needed. We were very well off. In high school, I was pretty athletic. My favorite sport to play was football. I was introduced to… Read more »



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