FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 8, 2015
COUNTY PARTNERS WITH DOWNTOWN STREETS TEAM TO FIND JOBS FOR HOMELESS
SAN JOSE – The Downtown Streets Team will help homeless men and women in Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, and San Jose find jobs and permanent housing with its new Business Outreach and Development effort. The job placement effort will be funded by the County of Santa Clara, at the urging of County Supervisor Joe Simitian. Simitian requested the funding as part of the 2015/2016 June budget process; and the agreement was approved at the Board of Supervisors’ December 8th meeting.
“Helping homeless men and women find jobs opens up a whole range of possibilities,” said Simitian. “More than 80% of the homeless in Santa Clara County are unemployed, with little access to job-training, transportation and support. That, of course, makes it extremely difficult for homeless folks to find jobs, which adds to the challenge of finding permanent housing.”
The Downtown Streets Team works to end homelessness by preparing homeless men and women for permanent employment through volunteer work. Team Members begin as volunteers working on community service and beautification projects. Those who show dedication and leadership skills have the ability to rise up to become managers and team leaders within the organization.
Homeless men and women who take part in the program have access to personalized case management and employment services to help them break the cycle of homelessness. The Downtown Streets Team has already placed 368 formerly homeless men and women in permanent positions and has helped 476 clients find housing.
“Getting a job is the key, the key that unlocks a whole lot of doors for the folks we’re working with,” said Simitian. “We’ve already seen that this approach can work. By investing in programs like the Downtown Streets Team that provide case-by-case support, we can help folks get into the workforce, off the streets, and ultimately into long-term housing.”
The Business Outreach and Development Specialist funded by the County will develop relationships with local employers and identify job-placement opportunities that suit the skills of the individuals in need. The $93,750 annual agreement with the County will fund the position for a trial period of two years, during which the program will develop 15 community partnerships to provide employment opportunities for the County’s homeless.
"Each homeless person has their own story, their own set of reasons for why they’re homeless,” said Downtown Streets Team Executive Director Eileen Richardson. “If we’re going to be successful in helping them make their way back to self-sufficiency, we need to take into account each person’s individual story and circumstance. Having a dedicated professional who knows the community, and knows the needs of each individual, will be a huge step forward in helping folks get back on their feet.”
“The more we learn about homelessness, the more we realize that the problem will only be solved on a person-to-person basis,” said Simitian. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution. If we really want to help people get off the streets and into permanent housing, we need to be able to give them personalized support and guidance.”