Homelessness “Street Outreach” Video Series
SAMHSA recently released the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) “Street Outreach” Video Series, designed to equip homelessness service providers with skills and knowledge to do their jobs well.
The three videos go beyond a theoretical discussion by portraying actual providers practicing outreach skills in real-world settings. The series represents a condensed timeline and demonstrates how the process might unfold.
The first 9-minute installment, “Initial Contact,” offers a model for approaching a person who might be in need of services, emphasizing the importance of remaining non-judgmental. Episode 2, “Follow-Up Visit,” demonstrates ways to build rapport by following the person’s lead. The final episode, “Connecting People with Services,” provides ideas for continuing the relationship and offering support services.
Each scenario shows an experienced outreach worker along with a trainee, their encounters with a man experiencing homelessness, and their reflections on the encounters. The workers discuss lessons learned and possible alternative approaches.
The videos should not be watched in quick succession. Viewers should watch an episode and spend time discussing what they saw and completing activities from the guide.
A companion discussion guide contains a synopsis, key messages, and discussion questions for each episode.
The videos and guide are available on the SAMHSA website.
Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) is a formula grant to the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 480 local organizations provide PATH services to people with serious mental illness, including those with co-occurring substance use disorders, who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless. Services include community-based outreach, mental health, substance abuse, case management, and other support services. Learn more about PATH.
The PATH program is part of SAMHSA’s Housing and Homelessness Strategic Initiative.
Outreach workers Jeff and Tina meet a man on the street and try to talk to him, but he doesn’t seem ready to talk. They tell him about nearby services, leave an information card and a bottle of water, and ask if they can check in with him another time. The encounter is brief, and the outreach workers move on.
Jeff and Tina return to the street corner a few days later and find the same man, “L.D.,” who is much more talkative. Tina notices an open beer bottle next to him. His arm is bandaged, and they tell him about a free medical clinic. Jeff offers to bring a new sleeping bag because L.D.’s was stolen. The outreach team has more rapport with him after this encounter.
Jeff and Tina bring L.D. a sleeping bag and ask about his arm. L.D. says he went to the clinic, then asks about housing options. Jeff confirms an application
appointment with his housing director. After giving L.D. a bus token and other items, such as socks and a hat, Jeff and Tina discuss how we measure success in small steps.