VIRGINIA BEACH — The city’s Housing Resource Center doesn’t just wait for people to come to them for help.
They also have an entire team dedicated to mobile outreach.
“The Homeless Outreach Team conducts ongoing engagement throughout the city in areas where we know people are staying, including encampments,” said Jasmin Ciesielski, spokeswoman for the resource center.
Ciesielski said currently there are approximately 20 people attached to around eight various encampments spread throughout the city.
While she was unable to provide the exact location of the encampments, she did say their locations were subject to change based on weather, safety issues, access to resources and so on.
The Homeless Outreach Team consists of four full-time staff members which includes a team lead as well as one part-time staff member, Ciesielski said.
All team members have training in mental health, first aid, trauma-informed care and crisis intervention, she added.
Every day the team goes out into the city to engage with the “unsheltered homeless population” which includes people living in encampments.
Part of the goal is to encourage people to seek services the resource center can give them and then get into a housing unit, she said.
“The Homeless Outreach Team provides a direct entry point into our homeless service system for people experiencing street homelessness,” Ciesielski added.
From the field the team can assess what each person’s housing needs are and enter data in the Homeless Management Information System, using the same process team uses at the resource center.
Based on the needs of each person, the mobile team can make referrals to housing or a shelter and if need be, put them on a prioritization list, Ciesielski said.
They can also help the unsheltered community with getting identification documents such as birth certificates, Social Security cards and picture IDs.
Those are all the same services provided to people who come in to the resource center themselves.
In addition to providing services, the team will give out summer care kits (lip balm, hats, bottled water, etc.) that were donated by the community or in the winter they may pass out hats and gloves, Ciesielski said.
This is the same team that checks on unsheltered homeless people when the weather reaches extremes, she added.
To learn more about the Housing Resource Center, click here.