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Street Outreach

Audio Description: Safe Haven staff speaks about the program and their outreach team's approach to clients. A client named Jesus shares about the challenges he faced with homelessness and his positive shelter experience.

Text on screen: For New Yorkers who’ve fallen through every social safety net, accepting outreach and services takes courage and resolve.
Safe Havens provide those experiencing street homelessness with the services and settings they need to get back on their feet.
We’ve tripled the number of safe haven beds citywide, with hundreds more opening in the coming years.
That’s how we’re #TurningTideNYC

A Pocket Guide to Accessing Homeless Services

View a list of DHS' intake centers and drop-in centers

Download DHS' intake centers and drop-in centers outreach flyer

DHS Joint Command Center (formerly HOME-STAT)

24/7/365 street outreach across all 5 boroughs

What should I do if I see an individual or a group of individuals that appear to be street homeless?
For the most immediate response, New Yorkers who see individuals they believe to be homeless and in need should contact 3-1-1 via phone or mobile app and request outreach assistance. You should call 911 if the individual appears to pose an immediate risk to themselves or others or there is criminal activity.

What happens when I call 311 to report a unsheltered New Yorker in need of assistance?

  • Individual calls 311 and a Service Request (SR) is created.
  • SR “outreach assistance” is assigned to a social service provider or a partner Agency, as needed.
  • Once assigned to a provider, an outreach team is dispatched.
  • Service provider outreach teams attempt to locate that individual and if found directly engage the individual, assess for safety and encourage them to accept services and transition off the streets.

How do outreach teams engage an unsheltered New Yorker in need of assistance?
Experienced outreach teams from not-for-profit service providers canvass the five boroughs 24/7/365 as part of our citywide effort to identify and engage individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, encourage them to accept services, and ultimately help them transition off the streets. Additionally, DHS performs joint outreach operations with community stakeholders and Agency partners, including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Parks Department, and the Department of Transportation as appropriate, to utilize each Agency’s expertise, engage more New Yorkers, and offer more supports. Since the start of the DHS Joint Command Center, through these efforts and new investments, outreach teams have helped more than 4,200 unsheltered New Yorkers come off the streets and subways citywide and into transitional and permanent housing.

How does the City know who is homeless and how to help?
Central to the DHS Joint Command Center effort, these outreach teams continue to build the City's first-ever by-name list of individuals who are:

  • known to the Joint Command Center outreach teams; AND
  • confirmed to be experiencing unsheltered homelessness; AND
  • currently engaged by the Joint Command Center outreach teams;

Those individuals living on the street face tremendous barriers to coming indoors—many have fallen through every social safety net and may have experienced trauma or suffer from mental health or substance use challenges, making them DHS' most service-resistant population. It can take months of persistent and compassionate engagement, involving hundreds of contacts, to successfully encourage street homeless individuals to accept City services and transition indoors.

With no one-size-fits-all approach to ending homelessness, the by-name list enables the Joint Comment Center outreach teams to more effectively engage each of these individuals on a case by case, person by person basis, directly and repeatedly, where they are, to evaluate the immediate and root causes contributing to their homelessness, continually offer a helping hand, develop the unique combination of services that will enable them to transition off the streets, and build the trust and relationships that will ultimately encourage these individuals to accept services.

As part of building the by-name list, the Joint Comment Center outreach teams are proactively and continually working to engage individuals who they newly encounter on the streets to evaluate their living situations, including whether they have a place to sleep at night, in order to determine whether they are homeless, and, if so, what specific supports they may need. Individuals who have been encountered on the streets by the Joint Comment Center outreach teams, but whose living situations have not been confirmed are considered prospective clients. If the Joint Comment Center outreach teams confirm that prospective client is in fact experiencing unsheltered homelessness, that person will be moved from the prospective client list to the by-name list.

With this information the most accurate real-time reflection of what outreach teams see on the ground every day, the City publicly reports a summary of this precise by-name information on a quarterly basis. Learn more about the quarterly report and download our most recent update. Download prior reports.

What services does DHS provide to street homeless individuals?
In addition to redoubling and enhancing proactive round-the-clock street outreach efforts, DHS operates specialized facilities dedicated to serving New Yorkers who have lived unsheltered—and continues to open more. For example, Drop-In Centers (DICs) and Safe Havens are low-barrier programs specifically targeted toward unsheltered individuals who may be resistant to accepting other services, including traditional shelters, while Stabilization beds are low threshold beds for high functioning clients. Both Drop-In Centers and Safe Havens are equipped with on-site services and staff who work closely with the clients to build trust, stabilize lives, and encourage further transition off the streets and ultimately into permanent housing. These facilities are often the first step towards helping unsheltered New Yorkers back on the path to stability.

  • Drop-in Centers provide baseline services with the goal of meeting immediate needs for unsheltered New Yorkers, such as showers and meals. DICs also have on-site case management services and staff, providing an immediate option for individuals who want to transition off the streets.

  • Safe Havens are transitional housing options designed to help unsheltered New Yorkers get back on their feet, by providing specialized overnight beds and physical and program characteristics specifically meant to address these individuals’ unique needs, including, for example, smaller physical settings, as well as more hands-on and intimate case management, coupled with lower-barrier program requirements. Safe Havens coordinate closely with outreach teams, who refer unsheltered individuals directly for placement. As of this year, this Administration has more-than quadrupled the total number of such specialized beds citywide, increasing from 600 in 2014 to more than 2,400 today – with more coming online.

  • Stabilization Beds are low threshold beds for high functioning street homeless individuals, individuals referred to these beds must be able to care for him or herself.  Case management is provided by Outreach Teams or on-site case management staff. Beds are throughout the five boroughs and are staffed by security and operation team 24/7. 

  • Welcome Centers are sites where unsheltered individuals are placed for a period so that clinical staff can assess their physical and behavioral health needs. At our Welcome Centers, homeless individuals work program staff who conduct assessment and evaluations to identify the best placement options. Individuals placed at the welcome centers can also begin the process to permanent housing by starting the applications for various DHS voucher programs and supportive housing. 

What happens if someone declines help from the outreach team?
Accepting outreach efforts, including services that will help homeless New Yorkers transition indoors from the streets, is voluntary, and it can take months of persistent and compassionate engagement to successfully connect street homeless individuals with City services. We remain undeterred in our efforts to engage them, proactively offering assistance and services, until we make the connection that will help them transition off the streets. Our team continues to reach out to these New Yorkers to offer services and help them come indoors.

What is the difference between an encampment, pop-up, and a hotspot?

  • Encampment: An outdoor location with a fixed, visible structure where two or more individuals gather, often under bridges or in remote areas where groups can isolate. In our City, we don’t allow obstructions or encampments.
  • Pop-Up: A pop-up location appears quickly and is usually temporary. It includes some level of debris such as carts, cardboard.
  • Hotspot: A location where two or more homeless individuals are gathered without a structure.

How does the City address physical conditions on the streets?
DHS is a key player in the vital Street Encampment Task Force. Our crucial mission is to remove homeless encampments in the City and extend support to the homeless individuals living in these encampments, providing them with access to shelter, social services, and other forms of assistance. Coordinating across Agencies, including DSNY, Parks, and DOT, as appropriate, the City addresses physical conditions quickly whenever they are encountered. During these efforts, when Agency partners like DSNY, DOT, or Parks address a condition at a given location, outreach teams are on hand to ensure we’re engaging any individuals who may be living unsheltered there, providing notice, offering them services and supports, and protecting any valuable belongings. Throughout the process, outreach teams are engaging the individuals directly, with persistence and compassion, focused on continuing to build on the unique relationship and progress they have developed with each individual, encouraging them to accept services.

These efforts occur on a case-by-case basis, responsive to dynamic circumstances on the ground, including as relates to the unsheltered individuals known to be residing in the area. Ahead of time, all partner agencies work to carefully assess the details of a given condition or situation, including the physical location as well as the number and type of possessions. In cases where an unsheltered individual known to outreach teams may be mobile and move their belongings with them, a careful assessment must be performed each time a client moves, as conditions may have changed, potentially altering the approach.

Code Red

NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) administers a Citywide Heat Emergency Plan that is activated during periods of extreme heat and humidity, as defined by the National Weather Service. During a Code Red, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless. Outreach teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Red Priority Lists to encourage them to accept services, including transportation to shelter placement. DSS coordinates borough-level Code Red efforts directly with partner City agencies, including but not limited to DSNY, and the Parks Department. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins. Unsheltered individuals experiencing heat-related discomfort are able to access the designated cooling area at any shelter.

Should any New Yorker see an individual who appears to be homeless and in need out in the heat, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance.

Code Blue

A Code Blue Weather Emergency notice is issued when the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or less between 4 p.m. and 8 a.m., including National Weather Service calculations for wind chill values. No one who is homeless and seeking shelter in New York City during a Code Blue will be denied. Should you see a homeless individual out in the cold, please call 311 and an outreach team will be dispatched to offer assistance. Code Blue Weather Emergencies include the following options for the homeless:

  • Shelters: During a Code Blue, shelter is available system-wide to accommodate anyone who is reasonably believed to be homeless and is brought to a shelter by outreach teams. Accommodations are also available for walk-ins.
  • Drop-in centers: All drop-in centers are open 24-hours per day when Code Blue procedures are in effect and will assist as many people as possible for the duration of the emergency. Drop-in staff can also make arrangements for homeless individuals at other citywide facilities.
  • Street homeless outreach: Teams will contact vulnerable individuals on their Code Blue Priority Lists to ensure safety and bring them to shelter. DHS coordinates Code Blue efforts directly with agencies such as DSNY, and the Parks Department, at a borough level.

Service Buses

Throughout the year, DHS operates five “service and support buses” strategically placed at locations throughout the City, providing unsheltered individuals with temporary respite from outdoor conditions at night, including serving as warm locations during colder weather and cooler locations during warmer weather. Staff are on-site to engage each individual, person by person, and provide additional information about the full range of services available to them.

Service buses are located at:


Penn Station (34th Street + 7th Avenue)  

  • Accessible via Subway: A/C/E train to 34 Street/Penn Station 

Bellevue Hospital (E. 30th Street between FDR Drive + 1st Avenue)  

  • Accessible via Subway: 6 train to 28 Street Station  


Queens Hospital Center (82-68 164th Street, Jamaica, NY, 11432) 

  • Accessible via Subway: F train to Parsons Boulevard Station  

Elmhurst Hospital Center (79-01 Broadway, Queens, NY, 11373) 

  • Accessible via Subway: 7 train to 82 Street Station 


Lincoln Hospital (234 E. 149th Street, Bronx, NY, 10451) 

  • Accessible via Subway: 4/5 train to 149 Street-Grand Concourse Station