The first step in housing homeless people is to engage them in the process.
For most that is easy, they are anxious to regain the stability of permanent housing. But for others who have a history of life on the streets or making the rounds of shelters, engagement can be a challenge. The Department of Family and Support Services conducts a variety of outreach activities.
Taking Services to the Streets
The decision to seek assistance is a matter of personal choice. When FSS brings services directly to homeless people, they are more likely to participate. Services are too convenient to pass up.
The city’s two mobile clinics make services readily accessible to homeless people. They bring a full range of medical and social services directly to the individual.
The well-equipped clinics are staffed by a certified nurse practitioner from the Chicago Department of Public Health and a social worker from the Department of Family and Support Services. In addition to providing direct service, they offer a conduit to long-term health, housing and support services.
The mobile clinics travel the city. They locate in parks, viaducts, soup kitchens, shelters…anywhere homeless people gather.
TO REQUEST A MOBILE CLINIC VISIT A SITE IN YOUR COMMUNITY CALL 3-1-1.
Some homeless people find overnight refuge on Chicago Transit Authority trains. FSS outreach workers board the "L" trains late at night into the early morning hours. They engage homeless riders in conversation and inform them of available resources. One of two mobile clinics is stationed at the end of the line to provide on-site services.
FSS teams conduct year-round outreach to homeless people in various areas of the city. Over time, through repeated dialog, outreach workers gain the trust of their street clients and are able to guide them into programs.
During periods of extreme winter weather, additional teams are assigned. An aggressive effort is launched to convince homeless people on the street to spend the night in a warm shelter.
In past years, O'Hare Airport has been a respite for homeless people seeking a warm, safe place to spend the day or sleep overnight. Outreach activities conducted by the McDermott Center, coupled with housing resources provided by the Chicago Christian Industrial League have proven successful. FSS works with these organizations to engage homeless people in the airport and secure suitable living arrangements for them.
Throughout the year, FSS coordinates outreach events that bring a number of service providers together in a location convenient for homeless people.
Organizations set up booths and have staff available to talk to people about their services. Fifteen to twenty organizations participate offering programs such as detox, health care, job training and placement, housing services, veteran’s affairs, state IDs and more. FSS provides transportation for anyone who decides to take immediate advantage of available services. On average, each event draws more than 100 homeless clients.