Downtown Streets Team Recognized as “Best Practice” Model for Ending Homelessness in California

Photo Credit: Downtown Streets Team

League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties Report encourages communities to replicate innovative model locally


SAN JOSE, CALIF. —  Bay Area homeless services provider Downtown Streets Team (DST) has been recognized by the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) Joint Homelessness Task Force as one of the top five “best practices” organizations for providing innovative services and effective support to individuals in California experiencing homelessness. The announcement comes during a period of sustained growth for the organization, which just expanded into the California capital, Sacramento, its ninth Bay Area location.

To determine which programs operated most effectively and efficiently, the joint city-county task force  which includes elected officials, municipal housing and homeless leaders, and city and county attorneys  spent 18 months examining how counties and cities in California have responded to the homelessness crisis.  

“Our homelessness task force spent more than a year looking at some of the best local programs that are helping people transition into supportive housing,” said Darby Kernan, Deputy Executive Director for Legislative Affairs at the California State Association of Counties. “Downtown Streets Team is one of those programs that is helping people get off the streets and address the root cause of their homelessness, too. There are more examples highlighted in the task force report.” 

Downtown Streets Team members, all of whom are homeless or at risk of homelessness, each volunteer an average of 20 hours per week, removing debris and garbage, cigarette butts and used needles from streets, parks and public spaces. In exchange for their labor, Team Members receive stipends to assist with food, housing, phone service and transportation, among other basic needs. The key goal of the program is to provide work experience, job-readiness skills, employment opportunities and housing partnerships to ensure that people who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness have the means to achieve self-sufficiency. 

“Homelessness is a complex, multi-faceted issue that we continually strive to address in a holistic manner,” said Downtown Streets Team CEO, Eileen Richardson. “Rather than design a program that targets one particular root cause of homelessness, our grassroots approach focuses on the many factors that can lead our neighbors into homelessness. We’re immensely honored to be recognized and look forward to partnering with more communities in the future.”