City Outreach Team

Four outreach workers stand in a group in the middle of a street talking
The City Outreach Team engages with people experiencing homelessness to connect them with resources and available shelter.

In Fall 2023 The City of Portland established its own City Street Outreach Team in response to the growing need for outreach services. This team of four compassionate and dedicated full-time City employees engages with people experiencing homelessness and connects those individuals with appropriate support and resources. 

What is street outreach? 

City Outreach worker leans down to speak with a person sitting on the curb
A City Outreach Team staff member engages with a person experiencing homelessness during a March 2024 Street Services Coordination Center mission in Northeast Portland. Outreach workers collected information and offered resources and shelter referrals to the individuals in an entrenched unsanctioned campsite. By the end of that week, five people moved into tiny home pods at Clinton Triangle, the City's largest alternative shelter site.

Street outreach providers come to the work with a wide variety of lived and professional experience. The City team includes professionals with specific training in trauma informed engagement, clinical social work, Emergency Medical Services, nonviolent conflict resolution and case management. Outreach professionals build relationships and trust with people, taking time and care to determine each individual’s specific needs. Our outreach team identifies the existing barriers and helps people navigate the complicated and often confusing social services network, connecting people to resources and matching people to existing shelter, health care and services that support them in their journey toward stable housing. 

Expanding an existing outreach network 

The City of Portland, in partnership with the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services, launched a Navigation Team in early 2019. Comprised of outreach staff from three different, independent service providers (Central City Concern, Transition Projects and Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon), this team has coordinated closely with the City’s Homelessness and Urban Camping Impact Reduction Program to provide outreach at high-impact homeless campsites across the city. Since April of 2022, the Navigation Team and City staff working under the Street Services Coordination Center have successfully referred over 3,600 people to available shelter beds. 

City Outreach worker kneels on the street, writing in a notebook, in front of a person sitting in chair.
The City Outreach Team engages with people experiencing homelessness to connect them with resources and available shelter.

Though the Navigation Team is one of many doing outreach work locally, the number of people living unsheltered in the area continues to grow, and the need for outreach far outpaces the available resources and staff. Additionally, as the City of Portland’s shelter portfolio has expanded and bed capacity continues to grow, the City identified a need for a team with streamlined coordination and communication with other City bureaus and departments who work in homelessness services. The City's Street Outreach Team adds to the existing network of outreach work across the Portland area and is also equipped to directly fill City managed shelter spaces quickly and efficiently. 

Part of a bigger picture: A new approach to Portland's homelessness crisis

The City of Portland believes everyone in our community has a role to play in stemming the tide of rising homelessness in our region, and, in that spirit, is ready to engage in new, ambitious, and creative initiatives that help more people experiencing homelessness find assistance, resources, shelter, and housing. 

The City’s work to expand the local shelter network has been a key part of this new, more solutions-oriented homelessness response. The City of Portland now proudly operates 8 Safe Rest Villages (SRV) and Temporary Alternative Shelter Sites (TASS). These locations offer tiny home pods and, in the case of Sunderland RV park, a safe and legal place to park lived-in vehicles. Managing referrals to these shelter sites is an important part of the City Street Outreach Team’s work. 

The City of Portland is now also helping more people connect to services directly by accepting requests for assistance from the City Street Outreach team through 311. People experiencing homelessness can contact 311 or ask another community member to do so on their behalf, offering a more streamlined process for seeking outreach. The City Outreach Team manages the caseload derived from these requests, with each staff member attempting to connect with 25 to 50 people per week. 

For situations where an individual is living unsheltered on the street and is seeking help from an outreach worker to navigate their next step, a request can be made here.

Please be aware this form is not designed to be an immediate/emergency response system, nor is it a guarantee of a shelter bed referral. This new program is intended to help outreach workers identify, locate, and contact unhoused individuals in need of service and attempt to assist in navigating their next steps.