Street to Home Pilot Program

An Innovative New Approach to Ending Homelessness

“I was sleeping on the trains. I didn't have a place to go. One day I just decided it was too much. I don't want to die so I decided I should get help. It’s probably the best thing I’ve ever done for myself."

Street to Home program participant Angel Quiles

Each night, thousands of unsheltered individuals sleep on New York City’s streets, subways, parks, and other public spaces. Their experiences are as diverse and complex as their needs. Many have untreated mental health issues. Others are dealing with layers of trauma from as far back as childhood. Both are significant contributors to chronic street homelessness.

Some of these individuals prefer to live “under the radar” and avoid the traditional shelter system due to feelings of exclusion, not only from society, but from trying and failing to navigate the bureaucratic systems that are designed to help, but still seem to keep them down.

But everyone is deserving of a home—a place to feel safe and warm, a place to live with dignity.

Street to Home is a new pilot program that brings individuals off the street and directly into supportive housing. In the spirit of the "Housing First" model, this program allows an unsheltered individual to bypass the shelter system altogether and immediately start focusing on their road to stability.

From the Street Into Housing

The pilot moves individuals into four VOA-GNY programs in the Bronx and Brooklyn that offer fully-furnished single-room occupancy (SRO) units with access to kitchens, restrooms, and shower rooms. Case management is offered on-site, as well as drug and alcohol rehabilitation groups, recreation activities and other support services.

The program is a partnership between Volunteers of America-Greater New York, the New York City Office of the Mayor, NYC Department of Social Services (DSS), Human Resources Administration (HRA), Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)

Providing Holistic Support Services 

Each participant enters the program with vastly different needs and skills. Once in housing, a team of highly-trained staff can assess their needs and, using a dynamic and trauma-informed approach, begin to address the factors that have led and contributed to their ongoing homelessness.

Social workers work with clients to develop an individualized treatment plan and meet with them regularly to document their progress, including identifying any barriers to achieving their goals and how to address them.

The goal is to ensure that each individual is linked to the services and resources they need to successfully adjust to life in the program, maintain permanent housing and, ultimately, leave behind homelessness for good.

"We can safely say that this works and is providing a valuable pathway out of homelessness. It needs to be part of [our] toolbox.”

Department of Social Services Commissioner Molly Park