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Outreach NYC: Mayor de Blasio Enhances Homeless Outreach by Training Thousands of Frontline City Staff to Request Assistance for New Yorkers in Need

November 14, 2019

City implementing massive interagency training effort, ensuring frontline Agency staff are equipped to request outreach assistance via 311

NEW YORK—The de Blasio Administration today announced the launch of Outreach NYC, a new, city-wide, multi-agency effort to help homeless New Yorkers across all five boroughs. The initiative will mobilize thousands of frontline City Agency staff to request outreach assistance via 311 when they observe individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, with the goal of continuing to help more unsheltered New Yorkers transition off the streets and subways into transitional and permanent settings.

“We’ve made significant progress in addressing our city’s homelessness crisis under Turning the Tide—and with Outreach NYC, we’re announcing new steps to take that progress even further,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We cannot attempt to address this issue in a vacuum. It’s time we all wear one uniform. Outreach NYC is our all-hands-on-deck approach to bring even more people in off the streets.”

“Today’s announcement represents our latest enhancement bringing the power of citywide collaboration to bear in service of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “By strengthening engagement, building trust, and providing more pathways off the streets, we will continue redoubling our efforts through the most comprehensive homeless outreach initiative in the nation, which has already helped more than 2,200 New Yorkers come off the streets and subways and into transitional and permanent housing programs. With compassionate frontline public servants acting as additional eyes and ears, helping our HOME-STAT teams further target their outreach and meet people where they are, we remain squarely focused on taking this progress further.”

Building on the enhancements announced in August 2019, the City has begun to provide comprehensive, systematic, training to 18,000 City employees across five Agencies, including the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), the Fire Department (FDNY), the Department of Buildings (DOB), and the Parks Department, on how to use the 311 app in all of its platforms to submit Service Requests (SRs) related to individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. These SRs will be routed to the City’s new Joint Command Center (JCC) announced earlier this year, managed by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and NYPD, where interagency staff will analyze trends, triage requests, and prioritize and deploy multi-Agency responses as appropriate, including to provide collaborative assistance to more challenging cases involving high-needs individuals.

At the same time, to most effectively implement the enhancements announced this summer, including strengthened joint outreach operations on the streets and in the subways, the City is in the process of hiring an additional 180 outreach workers. This will bring the number of outreach workers to more than 550, triple the number of staff conducting outreach at the start of this Administration.
By the Numbers: Mobilizing Frontline City Agency Staff to Help Address Citywide Challenge– In their day to day work, frontline City Agency staff across several Agencies may encounter individuals they believe to be experiencing homelessness or conditions on the streets or subways that require complimentary expertise to address. By training staff to submit Service Requests (SRs) for outreach assistance, City Agency employees will be engaged as essential partners in the ongoing, 24/7/365 outreach effort, helping the Department of Homeless Services deploy targeted homeless outreach teams in in real-time.So far, the City has trained:

  • DOHMH – 500 staff (Environmental Health Inspectors and counting
  • DOB – 500 staff (Buildings Inspectors) and counting
  • Parks – 1,100 staff (various) and counting, including:
    • 300 Parks Enforcement Patrol officers
    • 300 Community Service Associates
    • 500 Maintenance and Operations supervisors
  • DSNY – 1,000 supervisors

The City will also be imminently training:

  • FDNY – 15,000 staff (various), including:
    • 11,000 Firefighters
    • 3,000 EMTs and Paramedic

ICYMI: Status Updates on City’s New Approaches – JCCC operational and expanded outreach operations taking place, with nearly 200 additional outreach workers currently being brought on to assist:

Joint Command Center – To address the most challenging cases of unsheltered homelessness involving high-needs clients, who often face the most significant, often overlapping challenges, including mental health and substance misuse, the City has launched an interagency command center, bringing relevant Agency experts to the table to develop tailored approaches to engaging each individual based on their unique needs. HOME-STAT outreach teams are coordinating with Agency partners to address the needs of the specific subset of individuals confirmed to be experiencing unsheltered homelessness, known to outreach teams by name, and considered ‘entrenched,’ defined as having been engaged 50 or more times throughout a one-year period, indicating greater need requiring more interagency expertise. Through close collaboration with partners including the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Health + Hospitals (H+H), HOME-STAT outreach teams and Transit Bureau PD are developing targeted interventions on a case-by-case basis to make the breakthrough that encourages these individuals to finally accept services and transition off the subways.
Unprecedented Investments Show Progress – Since 2014, the City has redoubled outreach efforts, dedicating unprecedented new resources to street outreach programs and providers:

  • Helping more than 2,200 individuals off the streets and into transitional and permanent settings since the launch of HOME-STAT in April 2016.
  • Tripling the City’s investment in street homeless programs, increasing by more than from approximately $45M in 2013 to more than $140M today.
  • Tripling the number of outreach staff canvassing the streets engaging New Yorkers 24/7/365 since 2014, from fewer than 200 to more than 550, with those dedicated staff canvassing the streets every day, building relationships over weeks and months through regular contact and concerted engagement with homeless New Yorkers focused on encouraging them to accept services and transition off the streets.
  • Tripling the number of emergency ‘safe haven’ and ‘stabilization’ beds dedicated to serving street homeless New Yorkers citywide since 2014, with hundreds of beds opened during this Administration, bringing the total up from 600 to more than 1,800 today, and hundreds more set to open in the coming years, ultimately increasing the total to 2,100 beds dedicated to serving street homeless individuals and available to HOME-STAT outreach teams in their citywide outreach efforts.
  • Building the City’s first-ever by-name list of individuals known to be homeless and residing on the streets to improve delivery of services, with outreach teams now knowing approximately 1,300 street homeless individuals by name and actively engaging another 2,400 individuals encountered on the streets to determine whether they are homeless.
  • Increasing joint outreach operations to engage more New Yorkers and offer more supports, including expanding joint outreach operations with partner Agencies such as DOHMH, Parks Department, Department of Sanitation, NYPD, and the MTA to address conditions as they occur and provide alternative pathways to permanence.  

Building Trust, Person by PersonHOME-STAT outreach teams remain focused on persistent, proactive, positive engagement, offering services and supports to New Yorkers in need 24/7/365.

Accepting outreach efforts, including services that will help homeless New Yorkers transition indoors from the streets or subways, is voluntary—and, in accordance with NYS Mental Hygiene Law, street homeless New Yorkers cannot be involuntarily removed from the streets unless they are posing a danger to themselves or others. Unsheltered individuals residing underground often face complex, layered challenges, and may be resistant to accepting services, but our teams remain undeterred in their efforts to help them transition off the subways. To that end, HOME-STAT outreach teams have access to:

  • Licensed clinicians who work with clients on the streets, provide on-going case management, and assess each individual for immediate risk/crisis during each encounter
  • Psychiatrists who perform psychiatric evaluations on the streets, as needed, helping understand and better meet the individual needs of each street homeless New Yorker
  • Substance use resources, including ability to immediately connect individuals to detox and other rehabilitation programs—and are trained in naloxone administration

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