District of Columbia
The Homeless Outreach Specialist is a part of a larger outreach department at Pathways to Housing DC. This program - which is comprised of public and private partnerships - operates multiple street outreach teams whose goals are to engage, support, and combat homelessness for individuals living downtown. This outreach team is funded by the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID) and the Golden Triangle BID. Our outreach staff works to build trust with those experiencing homelessness. This is done first by helping to meet some of their basic needs (including food, clothing, showers, laundry, transportation, identification, etc.). Then, they partner with each individual to access housing, employment, medical care, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and other services.
The Outreach team also responds to concerns about people experiencing homelessness in the area from police, other social service providers, business owners, workers, residents, and downtown visitors. When medical or psychiatric crises occur, outreach staff intervenes when appropriate and follow-up to ensure seamless medical or psychiatric care and transition back into the community.
The Homeless Outreach Specialist is responsible for implementing a comprehensive homeless outreach strategy for the downtown area. S/he provides direct outreach services in a team environment to people experiencing homelessness and represents Pathways and the BID to community stakeholders. Approximately 75% of time will be spent in the community, directly providing services to persons living in shelter or on the streets of the downtown community. While much of the work is independent and self-directed, there is also a strong team dynamic. Shift schedules include hours between 7am-7pm, Monday through Friday. Team members are also required to participate in quarterly daytime and evening counts of individuals sleeping on the street in the BID. Successful candidates are committed to ending homelessness and have a fundamental belief that hope and recovery are always possible.
- Identify and engage individuals in need of services, assess needs, and work with a core “caseload" consistently over time to create a plan to meet needs, particularly with those who may not independently seek services;
- Determine overall needs of those in the respective community in order to strategically manage time and resources;
- Proactively initiate non-judgmental conversation and provide a consistent presence; offer clothing, hygiene articles, and other basic items;
- Coordinate within a larger continuum of care and address barriers and complex needs of multiple individuals;
- Assist individuals in applying for mainstream benefits, including Medicaid, food security applications, and Social Security disability;
- Identify other community resources and provide in-depth referrals to housing and medical and mental health services;
- Provide in-person assistance, including escorts, and facilitate smooth transitions (“warm handoffs”) to other service and housing providers;
- Advocate with other agencies for individuals to receive necessary services and housing;
- Participate in crisis intervention and screening for specific illnesses;
- Respond promptly to crises and to calls from BID stakeholders involving concerns about homeless persons in need of assistance;
- Maintain records in Electronic Medical Record, including progress notes, incident reports, referrals, and psychosocial assessments in timely manner;
- Represent Pathways and the BID Outreach team at trainings, community meetings, and other venues as needed;
- Perform related work as assigned;
Keys to Success:
1. Excellent Interpersonal Skills – This person builds solid relationships with clients, providers, and the community. They are able to establish rapport easily, maintain a client-centered focus and preserve a commitment to cultural competence. They demonstrate patience, compassion, and passion for working with persons with complex needs. While there may be diverse interests involved in complex situations, they are able to recognize that we are all invested in a positive outcome. Clients also experience greater success when we cultivate partnerships and positive relationships with other providers in the continuum of care and community stakeholders.
2. Strong Organizational Skills – This person is able to coordinate care and address the complex needs of multiple individuals in a case management capacity. They integrate information about vulnerabilities to determine the most effective and strategic use of resources. They also recognize that while following through is important, so is being flexible and adaptable when things do not go according to plan.
3. Gentle Persistence and Resourcefulness – This person is resolution oriented and committed to eliminating barriers through creativity, direct support and advocacy. They consult with colleagues and other providers on effective clinical strategies to promote client success. They also are willing to go deeper with clients and view “setbacks” as part of someone’s life process.
- Bachelor’s degree in human services or related field required OR can be waived for Peers who self-identify as being in recovery and have certification, or 2+ years working in a related field; Master’s in Social Work preferred but not required
- Excellent communication, writing, and computer skills;
- Experience working in homeless outreach or providing direct services to persons experiencing homelessness preferred;
- Demonstrated knowledge of harm reduction theory/applications preferred;
- Knowledge of mental health and substance abuse clinical skills preferred;
- Bilingual English/Spanish a plus;
- Knowledge of DC social service resources a plus;
- Driver’s License preferred.
Benefits include generous leave, medical, dental, vision, 403(b)
Level of Language Proficiency
Bilingual English/Spanish highly desired.
Minimum Education Required