Building on the Success of Metro’s Homeless Outreach Teams

A member of Metro’s Homeless Outreach Teams at work. All photos by Henry Salazar/ Board of Supervisors

Acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board voted unanimously to consider building on the success of a pilot program that deployed two outreach teams along the Red Line to help homeless individuals aboard buses and trains, and in and around transit stations, obtain housing and other services.

Coauthored by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, Duarte Mayor John Fasana and Councilman Mike Bonin, the motion directed Metro’s chief executive to submit recommendations for extending the Pilot Multidisciplinary Homeless Outreach Program on an ongoing basis, including potential expansion of the program to other lines and stations with a large homeless population.

“It’s critical that we don’t lose momentum,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “These teams were initially funded on a pilot basis and now that they have demonstrated their worth, we need to assure that the service will be ongoing.”

“There are clear opportunities to provide similar intensive services in other areas – notably on the Gold, Blue and Green Lines – and the funding requirements and logistical implications of this should be assessed in short order,” he added. “We know that deploying homeless outreach through multidisciplinary teams is the most successful way of getting individuals housed and into services. As an added benefit, this type of intervention also improves the atmosphere for our passengers.”

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas proposed a pilot program with two outreach teams in October 2016. Each team, composed of a nurse, a substance abuse counselor, a mental health clinician, an outreach worker, and a formerly homeless individual, began offering assistance on the Red Line in May 2017.

Over the last 10 months, they have engaged 1,539 individuals, and linked 208 of them to interim housing resources. Another 237 individuals have been linked to permanent housing resources, and 19 have been permanently housed.

“Metro is an important partner in the effort to end the crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles County,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “Metro’s homeless outreach teams have proven highly effective for ridership, homeless and otherwise. Now, it’s time to scale up and build on the growing movement we call Everyone In.”

Metro CEO Phil Washingon and Supervisor and Metro Board member Mark Ridley-Thomas with members of Metro’s Homeless Outreach Teams.