The Downtown Association of Santa Cruz has been a champion of the DST program for quite some time with its Executive Director, Chip, raising funds through business and individual donors to show its commitment to the City Council, City Manager, and all members of the Santa Cruz community that they believed DST would be a good addition to the multi-tiered approached to ending homelessness in Santa Cruz.
In May of 2017, three city councilmembers named DST as one of their Homeless Coordinating Committee’s 20 recommendations to the City Council of Santa Cruz of actionable solutions toward ending homelessness in our community. The Council unanimously approved those recommendations and by July of 2017 a contract had been signed to put the first Downtown Streets Team on the Central Coast of California, right here in the City of Santa Cruz.
Today, you will see our Team Members in their yellow shirts beautifying the downtown corridor, along the levees of the San Lorenzo River, and Main Beach & Cowells. These Team Members are working diligently to contribute positively to the community, change public perceptions about those who are experiencing homelessness, all while working toward individual goals to become stable and housed.
Five days a week you will find part of our Team working to keep the streets of downtown clean and debris free, while performing peer to peer outreach to men and women experiencing homelessness in this area. Don’t forget to say hi when you see them at work.
The San Lorenzo Riverwalk
Seven days a week the Levee crew is removing debris from the levees surrounding the San Lorenzo Riverwalk. You will see the Team scaling the levees between Highway 1 all the way to the Boardwalk. In a short time, this crew has had a major impact on decreasing the pollution in the area that spills into the river.
Main Beach & Cowell’s
Please take a moment to say hi and thank our Team Members as they perform the dual role of supporting our tourism economy by ensuring that our city beaches remain litter free. Their efforts keep those high traffic beaches beautiful and stem the tide of litter polluting our beautiful bay.
Harvey West & Pogonip
After a successful first year in Santa Cruz, the Team has expanded their efforts to the Harvey West neighborhood. In the early afternoon, seven days a week you will see Team Members cleaning up along the Highway 9 corridor, Pogonip, and the surrounding area. Keep an eye out for those yellow shirts and give them a wave when you see them.
North County Beaches
The Team has started working with the County of Santa Cruz to ensure our coastline to remains clean and pristine. We have a Team targeting popular spots such as Bonny Doon Beach, Panther Beach, Davenport Beach, and others. "The North Coast is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. I'm thrilled to have the Streets Team caring for beaches there," Supervisors Ryan Coonerty said. "Everyone benefits." The yearlong pilot program represents the first partnership between the County and the Downtown Streets Team.
Since January 2018, DST has partnered with OnRoute22 and the Santa Cruz Public Library to hold a weekly empowerment meeting for the women on the Team and other women experiencing homelessness. The variety of workshops created by OnRoute22 are designed to help the women embrace their authentic selves, build a network of supportive peers, explore their interests and talents, create healthy relationships, and become advocates for themselves and others.
We also work with women in leadership positions in our local community to create networking opportunities that our Team Members may not have access to otherwise. Once a quarter the Santa Cruz Food Lounge hosts a Women’s Empowerment Breakfast, where women entrepreneurs, government officials, and service providers come together with the women on our Team to cook a meal and to talk about what is happening in their lives and their shared community.
Check out this Video Slideshow of our Ribbon Cutting:
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, housing, and other goals. We strive to build that bridge and hope that you are interested in helping us build that bridge too!
Employment for Team Members
While Team Members are volunteering 20 hours a week to beautify our community they are also working with an Employment Specialist to find gainful employment in jobs in which they are likely to succeed. Our Team Members have a wide variety of skill sets, backgrounds, strengths and interests that may suit the needs of your company or organization. If you are interested in learning more about DST and employment opportunities, please contact Chris Richardson, Chris@streetsteam.org
Hire One of Our Qualified Candidates
Why our Team Members have the advantage:
DST’s program builds accountability, teamwork and punctuality — Our Team Members graduate ready to join the workforce. DST has placed over 709 individuals into permanent employment (90+ days)
Targeted Recruitment — We’ll share your employment opportunities with a pool of candidates who come from diverse backgrounds and have many skills and talents.
Candidate Screening — We thoroughly screen candidates and refer only those who are qualified for your open positions.
Retention Program — To ensure long-term success, Downtown Streets Team keeps in touch with our graduates beyond graduation. Employees are also always welcome to participate in our development courses.
Commitment to change — We only count success when a Team Member retains a job for over 90 days.
We hold “Apply-a-thons” where you will bring your laptop and be partnered with a Team Member who is actively seeking employment. They will provide you with all of the information needed to complete online job applications, you will provide the computer skills and grace under pressure to assist them in what can be a frustrating process for those who aren’t tech savvy. If you would like to get on the call list to help a Team Member during an Apply-a-thon, please contact Chris Richardson, Chris@streetsteam.org
Lunch For 50
Are you able to provide lunch for our Team Members once a week, once a month, once a quarter or even one time? If you are able to provide food at one or more of our Weekly Success Team Meeting held on Thursdays at 12:30pm in Downtown Santa Cruz, please reach out to Chris Richardson, Chris@streetsteam.org
Hygiene Kit Assembly
We conduct outreach weekly to people who are living on the streets, and having a travel-size, lightweight baggie containing shampoo, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and a wash cloth can be truly life saving. You can work side by side with our Team Members to assemble these kits for our outreach activities. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, please contact Chris Richardson, Chris@streetsteam.org
Check out what Joan Baez has to say about Santa Cruz Downtown Streets Team:
4/18/18 - Santa Cruz Downtown Streets Team expands homeless training, cleanup work throughout city. Read More...
10/26/17 - Leveelies quit San Lorenzo Park Levee after nine years, Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read More...
10/13/17 - Downtown Streets Team Comes to Santa Cruz, City on a Hill Press. Read More...
10/6/17 - Letter: Team of homeless people are beautifying downtown, Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read More...
10/6/17 - Letter: Thank you Downtown Streets Team, Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read More...
10/3/17 - Photo of the Day: Fighting the good fight, Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read More...
10/2/17 - Letter: Downtown Streets Team vital to Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read More...
9/9/17 - Greg Pensinger: Homelessness is an experience, not an identity, Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read More...
7/5/17 - Homeless to Help Beautify Santa Cruz Under New Program, US News. Read More...
7/3/17 - Santa Cruz Sentinel: Homeless to help beautify Santa Cruz with new program’s launch. Read More...
2/5/17 - Downtown Leaders Try to Bring in Clean-Up Program, GoodTimes. Read More...
1/5/17 - Community effort aims to bring homeless 'streets team' to Santa Cruz, GoodTimes. Read More...
Downtown Streets Team is a volunteer work-experience program. In exchange for beautifying your community, you receive gift cards to help with your basic needs and access to employment and case management services that support you in achieving your goals.
How Do I Join?
To join our team, prospective volunteers must attend our Weekly Success Team Meetings every Thursday. Once a space opens, they are invited to accept the available shift and join the Team.