Every weekday morning DLBA’s Homeless Outreach Specialist, Tres, loads up granola bars, water, and personal hygiene supplies in his backpack before setting out on a familiar route visiting overlooked and underutilized pockets of space around Downtown. In plain clothes rather than the recognizable red shirt of DLBA’s Clean and Safe Team, he will make this trek dozens of times throughout the week, hoping to earn a person’s trust, learn about their health needs or even a relative’s name and location and maybe, just maybe convince them to seek help in getting off the street.
It is a commonly held belief among homeless outreach experts that it takes more than twenty meaningful conversations before a person experiencing homelessness chooses to accept assistance. And although there may be a robust network of services for individuals experiencing homelessness in Long Beach, sometimes the biggest challenge is making those connections between potential clients and service providers. So each day Tres reaches out to familiar and new faces inside the Property Based Improvement District as part of DLBA’s commitment to creating a more prosperous Downtown for its stakeholders. The results of his work thus far illustrate the complex challenges of homelessness, with inspiring stories of individuals taking their first steps towards accepting services after speaking with Tres, mixed in with disappointing news of relapses weeks later. Despite those complexities, it is clear that DLBA’s commitment to the issue of homelessness is elevating its stature among service providers and city agencies.
Since adding a Homeless Outreach Specialist position in 2014, DLBA has become a more effective partner with the City of Long Beach and its homeless service providers by lending its consummate knowledge of daily street-level activities in Downtown, years of data collected by its Safety Ambassadors and ability to tap into a vast network of business improvement districts nationwide who are confronting similar challenges and perhaps, offering different solutions. In addition, DLBA’s Community Outreach Manager, Steve Be Cotte, represents the organization and its stakeholders on various homeless boards and task forces helping to shape policies and programs that determine services delivered in Downtown.
All of these efforts to promote the safety and welfare of Downtown have earned DLBA much-deserved recognition, most recently from City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, with the IMPACT Award for making a positive impact in the city.
To learn more about our Homeless Outreach efforts visit the Clean & Safe Team website.