Homeless Outreach and Engagement

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.

Mobile Clinics

The city’s mobile clinic make services readily accessible to homeless people. They bring a full range of medical and social services directly to the individual.

Social Services

  • Counseling and Case Management
  • Housing Job
  • Training / Placement
  • Substance Abuse Recovery

Medical Services

  • Primary Care Services
  • Health Prevention and Maintenance
  • Blood Test
  • Immunization

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.


CTA Outreach

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.

Street Outreach

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.

Airport Outreach

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.

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