Street Outreach Program

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FOF’s street outreach program is a brand-new program that started a year ago. We have two Outreach specialists - one in Black Hawk County and another that covers North Central & Northeast Iowa. This program's purpose is to meet individuals and families experiencing homelessness where they are: living in their car, encampments, or on the street. 

Why are we doing this? Street outreach work can help us to reach people who we normally would not be able to connect with. They might not have phones and cannot call housing hotlines, do not have access to resources, or do not know how to access them or even if they would qualify. Our team helps connect people experiencing homelessness to resources to help stabilize them and get them off the streets. This could be connecting them to food stamps, community meals, food banks, helping them fill out SSI/SSDI paperwork, obtaining ID’s, and other things to get them ready for housing.  

When we are going out and connecting with people who are actively in crisis and not safe on the street, we are trying to build a connection with them. We want to build trust. Reducing barriers so they can access housing, reconnect with family, or self-resolve. We do this with trauma-informed care, being respectful, and creating a safe, open, and friendly space. 

Since starting this program, we have connected with so many amazing community partners. In North Central Iowa, we have been able to do several nighttime outreach events where food has been donated from local pantries and pizza places. We also received soda donations from Pepsi and community members cooking hot meals. FOF can provide food, hygiene items, blankets, and other needed items, as we connect with people.  

This program has seen several successful outcomes over the past year. One individual was sleeping anywhere they could, such as on park benches or under bridges. They secured a job and started working while they were still on the street. They saved money and only needed our support with a deposit to get moved into stable housing. Today they are sober and maintaining their housing. Another connection was with several family members who were staying in their car. After an assessment and a great landlord connection, they were moving into their new home in just two weeks.  

These are just a few stories out of many that we see each day. We are so grateful to be a small part of their amazing success stories.