Founded on the premise that housing is the essential first step to addressing the complex issues faced by chronically homeless individuals, Street to Home is a systematic method of identifying and prioritizing for housing those who have been outdoors the longest and who have the highest risk of premature death on the streets.
People experiencing chronic street homeless are sometimes referred to as “hard to house” due to their non-responsiveness to traditional outreach efforts (e.g., offers of a night in the shelter or a warm meal) and the challenges to stability posed by severe and persistent mental illness, chronic health conditions and substance use disorders.
By taking the time to gain the trust of chronically homeless individuals gradually over time, and offering housing without conditions (e.g., sobriety), Street to Home demonstrates that these individuals do want a home and can successfully secure and maintain permanent housing.
The Street to Home model was pioneered by Breaking Ground and our partners in 2004 and adopted by the NYC Department of Homeless Services as a citywide strategy in 2007. Through our Street to Home program, Breaking Ground makes contact with more than 2,000 street homeless individuals and connects more than 500 individuals to housing, medical and mental health services, substance abuse counseling, and other essential supports each year. The caring, individually tailored attention clients receive at each stage of their journey from street to home ensures that more than 95% of people who Breaking Ground places remain stably housed.
Breaking Ground is the sole outreach provider for the entire boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
We are also responsible for a significant portion of Midtown Manhattan as a member of the Manhattan Outreach Consortium (MOC). Led by our partners at the Center for Urban Community Services, and along with partners at Goddard Riverside Community Center, MOC is a close collaboration among the three agencies to serve people experiencing street homelessness across the entire island of Manhattan.
The Journey From Street to Home
The following steps are completed to help individuals living unsheltered to secure housing. These individual are often difficult to locate from one day to the next. Many suffer from severe and persistent mental illness and/or recurrent substance abuse. They may be socially isolated and uncomfortable interacting with others.
Despite these challenges (and, in many ways, because of them) our street outreach staff persevere – connecting New York’s most vulnerable residents with safe, secure homes. The entire process can take weeks, months, or even years.