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Street to Home

Street to Home

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.

Build Trust

Our outreach team are on the streets 24 hours per day, engaging with people experiencing street homelessness and gaining their trust over time. We help meet their immediate needs while we work with them toward housing.


Open the Case

Once we determine that a person is verified as chronically homelessness and has expressed willingness to work with us, we add them to our Street to Home caseload. They are assigned a case manager, who meets them on the street or in our office to complete a full needs assessment.


Gather Documentation

NYC's supportive housing application requires a significant depth and breadth of personal information including housing and hospitalization histories, medication lists, health assessments, income verification and more. It also requires a valid form of identification, something many people experiencing homelessness lack. Our outreach teams play a critical role in helping clients successfully secure all necessary documents and complete the application process.


Identify an Apartment

Upon completion of the application, it is submitted to NYC's Human Resources Administration for verification. Once accepted, the application is then sent on to the city's Department of Homeless Services (DHS). DHS scours its housing database for available apartments and confirms that any available unit meets the client's mental health, substance abuse, or other special needs.

Identify Apt

Interview with Housing Provider

Once a matching unit has been found and verified, an interview with the prospective tenant takes place. Our outreach teams often help prepare clients for the housing interview and accompany them to and from the interview.


Finalize Benefits & Move-In Day

Final administrative steps take place, reconfirming applicant eligibility for housing subsidies and benefits. After a successful interview, final approval is received. We help the client secure move-in funds for the first month's rent, and the client moves into her or his new home.

Move In

Manhattan Outreach Partners

Goddard Riverside