The Community Engagement Team

The Community Engagement Team (CET) is a unique, business-led outreach team that provides rapid response support and intervention for non-violent crisis situations and traditional street outreach services in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The CET partners with Toronto Police to divert vulnerable individuals from the criminal justice system and into local community support programs.

Top Issues Council Brief: Evolving Homeless Services

This report explains the importance of supporting homeless services to increase individual and public health and safety. It also offers examples and resources to help place managers launch or enhance homeless services in their communities. 

Advancing Places: Social Inclusion in Public Spaces

Many communities have struggled with building public places that are welcoming and open to all. As downtowns grapple with the uncertainty of office work, the challenge of bringing users back to our public spaces is compounded by the needs of underserved groups. What if we can make use of public space as the nexus where people in need and the programs that are meant to serve them come together?

ATL Downtown Counts: Street Homelessness Survey

The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District conducted the first and only real-time enumeration survey of street homelessness targeted solely in downtown Atlanta and funded by the Community Improvement District. The survey was an all-volunteer, one-day outdoor event adhering to COVID-19 guidelines. Partner agencies included the Atlanta Police Department, the ADID Ambassador Force and a large group of downtown business and residential stakeholders.

Community First

The Times Square Alliance partnered with several organizations to pilot Community First, a program designed to help people in the district who are housing insecure and/or in need of human services and to create a more livable community for all. Community First addresses the economic and racial disparities of housing insecure community members in the area by building relationships and making connections to services such as housing, mental health, and/or benefits, among other services.

Homelessness and Mental Health in Reno, NV

This presentation covers the concept of the new Nevada CARES Campus, which provides shelter for 600+ individuals plus a unique safe camp with over 50 mod pods. It will explain the obstacles and challenges Washoe County and the City of Reno had to navigate to build and staff the facility. In addition, two other projects are included: Hope Springs, and the Village on Sage Street.

Atlanta Downtown Social Impact Safety Team-A.S.I.S.T.

The Atlanta Downtown Social Impact Safety Team (A.S.I.S.T.) is a mobile homeless outreach initiative targeted to serve those experiencing homelessness inside of the community improvement district and funded by the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) in 2020 as a pandemic related response and intended to build capacity and fill gaps in the homeless service ecosystem on a short-term basis.

Advancing Places: Conversation on Homelessness

Homelessness is, at its core, a human challenge, and as urban place managers we can act as conveners to collaborate and coordinate with service providers, public agencies and local organizations to ensure empathetic and successful programs. Join two panelists as they discuss their passion for addressing homelessness in their local district and how they approached the difficulties and successes when working to balance their unique situation.

One Person at a Time: A Different Approach to Homelessness

Homelessness is a challenge which does not discriminate based on region, culture, language or creed. It is a human challenge with complexities, which demand a detailed and thoughtful response. Urban place management organizations, while not social service or law enforcement, have been trying to find their role in providing help and balancing the needs of the individuals experiencing homelessness with the expectations of downtown businesses, residents, property owners and visitors.

Lateefah Simon Master Talk

Lateefah Simon is a 20-year veteran organizer for racial justice in Oakland and the Bay Area. She has been the President of the Akonadi Foundation since 2016. That same year—driven by the death of Oscar Grant—she ran and was elected to the Bay Area Rapid Transit Board of Directors—of which she now serves as President.

Public Safety Alternatives

Public safety reforms can be a polarizing conversation, but it is not one we should avoid. Rather, we should face the challenge, embrace the conversation and look at alternatives to providing safety. When we do so, we will find a plethora of programs that address the problems our urban districts face. Please join us as we explore three unique programs addressing sobriety and diversion, mental health and reducing violence by using disease control and behavior methods.

Downtown Day Services Center

The Downtown Day Services Center offers services to individuals experiencing homelessness. The Center, operated by DowntownDC, utilizes a housing-first model and is supported by District of Columbia Department of Human Services and services from Pathways to Housing DC and HIPS. The Center offers on-site support for individuals experiencing homelessness by providing a multitude of services within a single point of access.

What’s Our Real Role With Homelessness

Work with representatives from Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions to strategize what is truly a BID’s role in homelessness?

New ‘Outside the Box’ Approaches to Homeless Services

Often, place managers approach homelessness as a nuisance to be abated through things like “hostile architecture,” but often find this counterproductive. Some districts are exploring new approaches to serve people experiencing homelessness with programs like pop-up public toilets and social media videos to reunite families, to more expansive social worker interventions and eviction prevention strategies. This session presents ideas and spark discussion on compassionate and inclusive approaches.

The Lower Polk Pit Stop

One way that San Francisco is dealing with the feces issue is via the use of what are called “Pit Stops.” These are free public restrooms that are operated by a partnership between San Francisco and JCDecaux (“JCD”). The Lower Polk CBD was able to secure funding to monitor the JCD Pit Stop located in our District. This has decreased feces calls and improved quality of life for people in the district.

Family Reunification Program

As part of its efforts to address homelessness, Downton San Diego Partnership has implemented the Family Reunification Program, a program designed to reconnect homeless individuals with their families and loved ones across the country, enabling them to build much-needed support systems that are critical to ending the cycle of homelessness.

John Snook Master Talk

John Snook serves as executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, widely recognized as one of the most influential mental health advocacy organizations in existence today. Mr. Snook brings the organization more than 15 years of policy and advocacy experience at both the federal and state levels.

DTP Connects

Chronic street homelessness is a complex societal issue that many cities face world-wide. According to the 2017 Business Security Survey conducted by the Downtown Tucson Merchant and Retail Council, homelessness was ranked the number one safety concern among downtown business and property owners. Homelessness was also identified as the biggest barrier to Downtown Tucson’s success in both DTP’s online Board survey and at the 2017 DTP Board Retreat. DTP Connects is a homeless outreach program.

San Antonio Homeless Outreach Program

Downtown residents, workers and visitors are more likely to encounter panhandlers in the course of a day than outside of downtown. Centro San Antonio chose to focus their energies and resources on the homeless community, and to embrace and support this community in a unique way. In 2017, the organization invested nearly $140,000 to support the Outreach and Gateway Clean-Up programs.

Creating A Social Development Ecosystem

South Africa’s particular socio-economic context forces many people to leave their homes to seek employment in city centres. However, the majority often cannot find work, and without enough shelter beds available, they are consequently left homeless. City systems lack sufficient infrastructure and resources to help those who need it. In response, VRCID developed a new coherent, collaborative approach that could address the complex challenge through an interconnected ecosystem of all players working to combat homelessness.

Clean Streets Team

The Waterfront BIA introduces its new Clean Streets Team, in partnership with Progress Place! Progress Place offers an inclusive, respectful and engaging community for people living with a mental illness. Combining a comprehensive network of services that includes employment, education, recreation and housing, they are committed to helping people stay out of hospitals, achieve their personal goals and contribute to the communities they live in. The team also does cleaning operations.

Top Issues Council: Homelessness in Urban Districts

This publication reflects the experiences and analysis of many urban centers throughout North America and is compiled by a council of place management practitioners experienced with effective homeless solutions. While similarities and differences abound, there are only a handful of truly universal issues which permeate the core of each downtowns across the globe. Homelessness is a challenge which does not discriminate by region, culture, or creed. It is a human challenge with complexities which demand a thoughtful response.

Outreach Services for Vulnerable Populations

Downtowns place management organizations have one of the best vantage points to help vulnerable people in their districts. This presentation outlines a number of different approaches to helping homeless through outreach, service delivery, education and communication strategies currently deployed in Cincinnati, Nashville, and Pittsburgh.

Downtown Districts at the Table: Top Safety Topics of 2017

Every thriving downtown community requires public safety. As downtown centers become re-populated with residents crime has shifted to include dangerous behaviors. Police forces have been thinning and patrols may not be as commonplace. More city centers are destinations for major events, which may also make them targets. How do districts plan for public safety? As a part of IDA’s Top Issues Council, the Safety & Security team explored this topic and more.

Homelessness in Urban Districts

The need for new, comprehensive approaches in addressing the issue of homelessness has risen to the forefront of conversations in urban centers around the globe. Two members of the homelessness top issues council share the four principles identified by the council for urban place management organizations.