An Introduction to the Downtown Streets Team

Downtown Streets TeamAt Downtown Streets Team our goal is to prepare homeless men and women for the workforce and to help them move forward and into regular employment. The old adage, “get a job, bum” is too simple and unrealistic when we stop to think about the many challenges that people face simply to find a place to shower, launder their clothes, get an ID and other vital documents, and access their email or phone messages. A bridge is needed if homeless men and women are to move toward employment, and we strive to be that bridge.

Organization wide, our Team Members have earned over $4 million of taxable income as a direct result of their work with Downtown Streets Team and have retained their regular employment for 90 days or longer (an established benchmark for sustainable success) at a rate of 75%. The national best practice for transitional employment programs nation wide is 14%. We have achieved and will continue to achieve this success because of our commitment to help people rebuild from the ground up and to continue support long after they graduate from our program. This high rate of success is also in part because we individualize our employment strategy for each Team Member and try to find a position that matches their unique skills, knowledge, and abilities. If people – homeless or not – enjoy the work they do, they are much more likely to stick with it.

This last piece is where our partnerships with local businesses like yours will be extraordinarily valuable to the success of our Team Members here in Santa Cruz. Since the Downtown Business Improvement District in Palo Alto launched the first Downtown Streets Team back in 2005, we have always valued the partnerships of businesses. We have formal partnerships with BIDs and other business councils in many of the eight greater Bay Area communities in which we’re addressing homelessness every day. We recognize that businesses are an essential part of the solution to homelessness, even though they’re rarely engaged as such except when they’re being asked to donate money.

We are committed to developing employment pipelines with local, compassionate employers who understand the challenges that people face as they struggle with the daily rigors of homelessness but who are nonetheless willing to give our Team Members chance. We have developed such partnerships with large companies like Enterprise Rent-a-Car, as well as, with smaller, locally–owned businesses in the communities we serve. Since we are committed to supporting our Team Members after their graduation from our program, we can offer support to both employee and employer if challenges arise while on the job.

As we continue to establish our presence here in Santa Cruz, we hope to develop partnerships with member organizations of the Santa Cruz County Business Council to work together to address the issue of homelessness in our community. If you have any questions about our program or would like to discuss working with Downtown Streets Team, please contact me at 831-713-3708 or email

Brooke Newman
Employment Specialist – Santa Cruz
Downtown Streets Team